Six Ways to Help Your Kids Conquer Back-to-School Nerves

by | Jan 10, 2018 | Helping Kids be Confident | 0 comments

From the beginning of seventh grade until halfway into my first year of high school, I dreaded going to school. Some days, I’d get the same physical symptoms as if I were being chased by a lion: racing heart, surging adrenaline, dry mouth, upset stomach. I didn’t feel this way because of the schoolwork; it was because I was so afraid of what (or who) was waiting for me in the lunchroom or on the schoolyard.

Most kids fear and suffer more from peer relationships than they do from academic pressures, and I was no different.

If you’re a parent helping an insecure or fearful child prepare to go back to school this semester — or any day of the year —  here are some things you can say and do that might help.

  1. “Yup, I get it. School can suck.” Empathize with their emotions. Feelings are okay, it’s what we DO with feelings that is either okay or not okay. Tell them how awful school was for you, if it was. Agree that it can be scary, sad, lonely or frustrating. He or she will feel that you’re on their side and that there isn’t something wrong with them for feeling this way.
  2. “I believe you can do this, because…” You have to really believe in your child’s ability to handle things for this sentence to work. What have you seen them do before that is scary or hard? What have they overcome before? Remind them of those times, and what strengths or resources they drew upon to cope? In my case, my mom could have said, “I believe you can do this because we’ve moved six times already, and you always made good friends because you are kind, open and curious.” It would have helped.
  3. “This is a chance for you to practice being …..” Depending on the situation, encourage your child to build one of the strengths they’re either endowed with or not. (There’s a great list of strengths in my free booklet, “24 Ways to See the Best in Every Child.”) Two key strengths to build in difficult situations are optimism — looking for the good — and bravery — doing things even though they’re hard. Follow this up by asking what he or she did that day that drew on one of their strengths.
  4. “Making friends requires some skills that anyone can learn, and I’m sure you can too.” Give them some step-by-step advice. Social skills include making eye contact, smiling, making chit-chat (“Did you finish the homework?” “I like your shoes.”), listening with interest when someone else is talking, and being able to share a couple of things about yourself that are interesting but not too personal, at least for now. If things go well, and a friendship starts to blossom, the more intimate stuff can come later.
  5. “Sometimes these things take time.” Teach them to be okay with discomfort by being okay with their discomfort. This is hard, I know. It’s so natural for us to want to ease our children’s suffering, but the truth is sometimes difficult situations last a while. Being able to cope / stay optimistic through hard times is a skill they’ll need throughout their lives. In the meantime, practice strengths as in Step 3 above or try Step 6.
  6. “You have the power to make good things happen.” Help them focus outside themselves by encouraging them to do one kind thing for someone every day, and to notice the good that comes their way too. As tiny a gesture as holding the door for someone counts, and can make a difference.

Good luck. I’ve been through this many times with my own kids and my heart goes out to you.

What ideas can you add? Have you tried something that might help other parents? Share it below!

 

sea1

Do you need kind, compassionate support to bounce back from a negative experience? If so, then get in touch with me now, and let’s make the most of your precious time, energy and love. 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kristen Carter

Kristen Carter, Certified coach, author, and breast cancer survivor. More

Absorbing Goodness

Absorbing Goodness

A couple of months ago, I got some great advice: “Take time to absorb the things that inspire you, rather than rushing to share them with other people.” The point my friend was trying to make is that while I’ve made a career out of helping other people love themselves...

Reclaiming the Flame

Reclaiming the Flame

I used to have a nice, bright-and-shiny life, at least from the outside. I had a great job title, education from good institutions, accolades from my bosses and peers, a good house, handsome husband, a son and a daughter, good friends, and good relationships with my...

Lost and Found

Lost and Found

On Friday, I lost one of my most cherished possessions: a necklace my husband, Charles, had designed for me with the help of a jeweler friend from South Africa. I wore it to a doctor’s appointment, then put it in my purse while I had a scan. When I went to retrieve it...

How to do Limbo

How to do Limbo

  One of my best friends from high school is alone at home recuperating from Covid. His wife, who has severe MS, is in a recovery center trying to get better with thinly-stretched medical care. (They were both vaccinated.) Another friend’s son is waiting to see...

Emerge Sparkly – My Plan to Help You Live Joyful and Inspired

Emerge Sparkly – My Plan to Help You Live Joyful and Inspired

Oh my gosh, I’ve been having the most blissful time cocooning. Actually, it’s been like being wrapped in a cozy blanket inside a bubble inside a cocoon. And like a little larva, I’ve been evolving inside it. I’ve been thinking deep thoughts. I’ve written thousands of...

Bounce back from a negative experience with renewed confidence, hope, and courage.

Explore what kind, compassionate support can feel like with a no-obligation conversation with me by phone or by Zoom.