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Three words I dread. Does anyone else get back-to-school jitters?
Going back to school means saying good-bye to the relaxing feel of summer and hello to homework and a rigid schedule.
As a kid, I would get back-to-school jitters big time. My stomach would turn at the mere sight of school supplies and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. Worries consumed my mind and I would start asking, “Would my teacher like me? Would I be able to find the bathroom? Would I have friends to play with at recess?” Blah blah blah. I worried so much that my third-grade teacher told my mom at parent-teacher conference that she was concerned about my stomach. She recommended that I relaxed and stopped worrying so much!
So what do you do if your child feels nervous about going back to school?
Back-to-school jitters are perfectly normal. Anxiety in small doses is natural and part of our biological makeup. But we can ease the stress by addressing and talking with our children about their fears before school begins and I have a fun way on how to do it!
It’s called a “Worry Monster!” These (friendly of course) monsters love to eat worries that are written on slips of paper and put into their mouths. The purpose of this is NOT for your child to push away feelings of fear but rather to acknowledge them and practice letting go of the ever consuming thoughts that can escalate anxiety. Scroll to the bottom for more tips on how to address such feelings.
You will need:
A tissue box, glue, scissors, paint, and pretty much anything around the house that you can use to decorate with. I started thinking after I was done that some bright feathers could be fun! So really- anything goes.
Side note: I like using the thinner tissue boxes. But you can use any box and shape or size.
We used acrylic paint but I think spray paint may work lovely too!
The kids went right for the googly eyes first, but if you don’t have any you could draw the eyes on or use egg cartons.
Oh and I forgot to mention that we chose to cut the plastic off the opening so we can add teeth but you can leave it if you want.
Then we used those triangular cosmetic sponges and cut them in half to make teeth.
My kids got creative and had fun figuring out how they wanted their monsters to look! And voila! Aren’t these fun!?
Next, have your child write down their worries or fears about school or anything they want on a slip of paper.
Then Next, they can feed it to the “Worry Monster” to eat or hold for them.
A few additional tips about Back to School worries:
-Talk about what it feels like to be scared so your child can identify how they know when they are scared. You can ask questions like, “Where do you feel worry in your body?” or “How do you know you are scared?”
-Avoid placing judgement on their feelings as good or bad.
-Avoid saying things like, “You don’t feel that way” or “Don’t be scared”. That is a great way to discount how they feel and shut them down.
-Spend time just listening.
-Use reflecting statements such as, “You are scared…” to help them identify their fears.
-Try going to the classroom and meeting their teacher ahead of time or starting a visual countdown.
-Find children’s books that address feeling scared- (I’ll be talking more about this on an upcoming post).
It’s going to be here before you know it. Do I dare say it…
So start the conversation now about this upcoming transition. And then g0 enjoy the rest of your summer!!
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For more back to school helps, check out these posts: