This past Monday I was asked to be on Channel 12, Phoenix’s NBC affiliate, to discuss techniques for dealing with the back-to-school anxiety children and parents face. Lin Sue Cooney had great questions for me, so I thought I would share my prepared responses with you.
As a parents, we want to help dispel our children’s fears. What are some of the ways to help lessen the anxiety of back to school?
It can be helpful to you let your children know that it is natural to be anxious about starting a new school year, and share your own stories about being afraid. Remember, fear is sometimes about the unknown. You can help your child prepare for the unknown by practicing situations they might face. Role play making friends or meeting a new teacher.
As parents, we also have fears. Will our children face bullying? Are they encountering things like sexting? How can we work through that ourselves without imprinting those fears on our kids?
Start by learning the schools’ policies about bullying and the use of digital devices. If the school does not have a policy or if the policy does not conform to best practices, demand new policies or find a different school.
Again, fear is about the unknown. The urban legends about bullying and sexting abound, but getting the facts can be pretty comforting. Information from the CDC shows that school violence is declining and has been for some time. Furthermore, a study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicates that it is adults who are sexting, not kids.
In the Old Navy video about back-to-school anxieties there’s a monster called “Womp Womp” that acts like that little voice inside our heads telling us we’re not good enough, smart enough, people won’t like us. How to we teach ourselves and our children to turn the volume on that voice down?
Years of therapy? A good Bordeaux?
We all struggle with insecurities. One technique is to remember a time and a place where we felt competent, secure, and loved, and then use the recollection of that feeling as fuel to take on a new challenge. Objects can help us get in touch with these feelings. It’s why adults keep trophies or heirlooms, and children keep stuffed toys and security blankets. Regardless, the key is allowing ourselves to remember, experience, and believe the feeling of those moments from our past.