Child therapist Juli Hindsley provides suggestions for dealing with back-to-school anxiety

The carefree days of summer seem to come to a crashing halt as soon as Target and Walmart bring out the new backpacks, notebooks, and pencils. Going back to school can be a stressful time for parents and caregivers as they balance school supply lists, new schedules, and meet-the-teacher nights; however, it is common to see anxiety and worries creep in with children as well.

St. Petersburg child therapist Juli Hindsley suggests carving out a few minutes daily to talk about back-to-school worries, even beginning a few weeks before school starts. The visualization exercise of ‘tell me one worry; tell me one win’ offers a look at what school means from your child’s perspective. Not only is it a low-key exercise that can be done in the car or over dinner, but it can also be used throughout the year.

“Personalized calendars or a whiteboard are a great way for children to visualize what new school routines might be like,” Hindsley adds. “Talking through each step, especially anything that they can expect to be different from the year before, is helpful and can help to reduce nerves.”

The St. Petersburg child therapist adds that validating worries and fears is more helpful than trying to prove them wrong. She suggests responding with the same words and phrases that are commonly used to confirm you are listening to them, regardless of the topic; for example, “I understand that going to school can be scary. New things can be really scary for anyone! It is ok to be nervous, I am listening and I believe you.”

“A kid who keeps talking is one that feels like all of their thoughts will be heard,” the child therapist and mom of three said. “And an open line of communication will prove invaluable as they grow.” 

For additional resources and St. Petersburg children’s counseling services, visit Child & Family Therapy Center’s contact page.

Child therapist discusses back-to-school anxiety in kids