Boost your child's confidence

What are some signs that my children are worried or stressed?

  • Headaches or stomach aches;
  • Sleep difficulty or nightmares;
  • Avoiding peers or family activities;
  • Not being able to focus on tasks;
  • A drop in grades; and
  • Changes in emotions (e.g., bad-tempered, acting more grouchy than usual).

Learn More

Foolproof Strategies for Getting Kids to Talk

Video: Helping Children Deal with Back-to-School Stress

Video: Helping Children Deal with Back-to-School Stress

How can I help my children make the change from elementary to middle school?

  • Most middle schools have a day for new students to visit the school before school begins. Be sure your children attend. They can walk the halls and see where classrooms, lockers, bathrooms, and the cafeteria are located.
  • If the school has a visiting time for parents, try your very best to attend. If you can’t attend, call the school to get information about school schedules and school rules that you and your children need to know (e.g., attendance policies).
  • Before school begins, have children practice using a combination lock if this is something new to them.
  • Learn how much time students have to get to classes and see how far children can walk in that amount of time. This will reassure them that they can get to the next classroom on time.
  • Practice organizational skills. Do your children have backpacks, folders or notebooks, to keep the materials needed, and expected, for each class? Do you have a checklist and/or routine at home to support children in completing assignments and prepare for the next day?

What are some ways I can help my children reduce stress?

Get enough rest:

  • Children ages 4 through 6 years need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep
  • Children ages 7 through 12 years need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep.
  • A week or two before school begins, have your children go to bed at a set bedtime and wake- up at the time they will need to wake for school.
  • It is also helpful to get back into the school routine a few days before children need to return from school breaks.

Know what to expect in new situations:

  • Think through any experience that makes your children worry and walk through the activity together.
  • For example, if children are uncomfortable about going to a friend’s birthday party, drive or walk to the home ahead of time so the location is familiar, offer to take your child’s friend to the party so your child knows someone as soon as arriving at the party; practice things to say to the birthday child and the parent (thank you for inviting me); talk about what to say if offered food that isn’t wanted, etc.
  • Let children know it is okay to make mistakes and talk to them about how we can learn from mistakes. Let them know they don’t need to be perfect, just do their best.

Avoid too many activities or responsibilities:

  • Have your children select the one or few activities that are most enjoyable and important to them rather than do as many as possible.
  • Be sure you give children tasks that they can do as their jobs and be sure you don’t give them tasks that are adults should do (e.g., getting younger brothers and sisters ready for school).

Find healthy ways to deal with stress:

  • Getting rid of stress through action (e.g., exercise, sports) can help some children. Others may need to find a space to be alone and have some quiet time. Give your children some time to ‘let off steam’ or ‘collect their thoughts’, and be sure you give them time to talk to you so you can learn what is bothering them.
  • Teach them calming breathing techniques and remember to use them yourself.
  • Be a good example of how to deal with stress. Be sure to avoid reacting in an angry manner when you have had a "bad day."

Be patient!

  • It can be difficult when children worry about things you feel may not be a problem. But be sure your children know you will support them and help find ways to "get through it!"

Learn More

Listen to Ways Parents Can Help Children with School-time StressListen to Ways Parents Can Help Children with School-time Stress

What to Do and Not Do When Children are Anxious

Contact Us | Join our mailing list | ©2017 Council on Children and Families