In positive ways, it can be exciting to watch your child adapt to new classes and friends while learning new things and earning new responsibilities. However, it is also common for children to present with new or re-occurring behaviors that are disruptive, aggressive, or maladaptive to maintaining a positive learning environment and peaceful home.
Over time, as everyone adapts to a new schedule and routine, you should see a decrease in these disruptive behaviors and an increase in positive behaviors. Use these tips to make this back to school time transition as smooth as possible this year:
Tips For Helping Your Child Adjust to School
A. Academics and Activities. The start of a new school year can bring on a flurry of activities that while fun, can be overwhelming to children. A balance between academics and activities is critical to maintaining a content household. Just like adults can feel overwhelmed when schedules are overloaded, children can also feel spread thin and exhausted if they are involved in too many activities on top of their new school responsibilities.
If your child is not adjusting well, try cutting back on activities, allowing your child’s time and energy resources to focus on just a couple of things at a time. This balance between academics and activities, including free time to play and relax, can make all the difference between a chaotic and calm family and home.
B. Bedtime Routine. During summer, routines and consistent bed times are often forgotten in favor of fun activities and vacations which can end in late nights. Returning to a consistent bed time can improve your child’s ability to tolerate transitions. Feeling rested in the morning helps your child start their school day strong and capable of processing new information and managing a new environment.
A consistent routine at bedtime can look many ways but might include cleaning up their room, bath time, brushing teeth, reading time, and lights out. Keeping the same order helps your child know what to expect next. Set a reasonable bed time based on your child’s age that helps them to feel rested and ready for school. Finding the right bed time might be an experimental process as you adjust the time so that it is late enough that they are tired when it is bedtime but early enough that they get plenty of rest before their wake up time for school.
C. Consistent Check-Ins. Consistently checking in with your child empowers them in feeling supported and keeps you aware of events, celebrations, and potential challenges. Weekly family meetings can provide a way to check in with each family member and maintain awareness about what he or she is feeling about school, friendships, and family. If your child is feeling worried or discontent about something in his life, he might struggle with a good time to bring it up with the family.
Consistent check ins allow a space and time to do just that, making it safe for your child to bring up his worries and seek support from the entire family. Family check-ins are also a great time to celebrate all of the good things that have happened throughout the week!
Back to school time can be both exciting and stressful for parents, children, and families. Enjoy this new time and take time out of the busyness to reward positive behaviors and celebrate new achievements. This is a normal time to see new and re-occurring disruptive behaviors occur with your children as they adjust to new people, places, and routines. However, if after a few weeks in to the new school year your household is still chaotic, reach out to the resources available to you for support. A school counselor is a great place to start for assessment and referrals. If you feel that additional support would be helpful, a family therapist in your area can help provide on-going support and tools for a happier and healthier child, family, and home.