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How to Cope with Back to School Blues

Helping Your Kids Overcome Sadness and Anxiety Once Summer Ends

Even if your child has been lamenting their summertime boredom all season long, summer can still feel way too short. Once the realization that school is almost back in session hits, it's not uncommon for some children to get moody or experience feelings of grief.

It's hard for a parent to see their child upset (even if we're secretly excited for some more structure and routine), but there are solutions to the back to school blues.

Make going back to school fun

As we prepare for a new school year, it's easy to get caught up in practicing morning routines and checking things off of to-do lists. But, only focusing on these ‘action items' does take some of the fun out of going back to school.

This doesn't mean you should forgo morning routines completely, but how about infusing a bit more fun into the school season? Here are some ideas to try:

  • Plan a special event for the first day or week of the new school year. This could be a trip to the beach, dinner at a favorite restaurant, or anything else your child would look forward to.
  • Turn the morning routine into a fun competition — who can be ready for breakfast the fastest?
  • Write down fun activities that kids can do after school onto scraps of paper, put them in a jar, and let your children pick a new activity each day after school.

The goal is to demonstrate that going back to school doesn't mean giving up all the fun of summer, so get creative.

Get in touch with friends before school starts

Having friends around helps alleviate some of the fears of heading back to school, but keeping up with friends throughout a busy summer of family vacations and other activities can be tricky. Encourage your child to call or text their friends, or set up playdates for younger children.

Offer as much reassurance as your child needs

This paragraph from Good Therapy's article on Back to School Blues is very fitting, and it's something all parents should try to remember each school year:

“The daily struggles of school life might seem trivial to an adult who has been out of school for years, but for a child, school can be everything. When school goes poorly, life feels awful, so take your child's concerns seriously.”

At the end of the day, some kids just need to feel heard and comforted. Returning to school can be hard, but talking things through together can help. It's tempting to jump in with advice and solutions right away, but ask your child what their concerns are and truly listen before telling them what you think they should do. However, some problems do require parental intervention. If your student is worries about bullies, for example, you may want to speak with the school or work on an action plan together.