Resources / For families

Your guide to managing BIG back-to-school feelings

mom and daughter holding hands waiting for school bus
Brightline Logo Mark Orange
Brightline team

Aug 16, 2022

A new school year is just around the corner. We can almost smell the still-sharp Crayons (and still-clean lockers) now! But with all that excitement comes enough worries to fill a school bus: Who am I going to sit next to at lunch? What if I don’t like my teacher? When am I supposed to do all my homework?

Here’s how you can help your child feel ready to head into their new classroom this fall.

Listen. When your child shares a worry, they need you to hear them more than they need you to make a problem go away. Just knowing you’re there can go a long way towards building their confidence.

You could say: “Thanks for telling me how you’re feeling. I’m always here to support you. Do you want to tell me more?”

Let them know it’s okay to worry. It’s easy for kids to feel like everyone else is doing great and they’re the only one struggling. (Especially if they spend time on social media).

You could say: “It’s totally understandable to feel worried, especially before a big change like going back to school. I know for sure you’re not the only kid who is feeling this way!”

Make a plan. Think of ways your child can respond to a worry coming true. For instance, if they’re scared of missing the bus, you could talk about what they can do to get to the bus stop on time, who they could call if they do run late, and what happens if they get to school after the first bell.

You could say: “Do you want to come up with a plan together?”

Practice calming skills. Taking deep, slow breaths and noticing what you can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch are really effective ways to quiet the nervous system. (Therapists and coaches are great at teaching lots of strategies like these!)

You could say: “Sometimes we can feel worry in our body. Calming your body down could help. Do you want to try?”

Remind them — they’ve got this. Think of other times that your child has faced their fears. Maybe it was the start of another school year, trying a new activity, or when they first met a friend. Remembering that success could shore up their confidence.

You could say: “Let’s think of a time when you were worried like this, but things turned out okay. What did you do then?”

Focus on the good stuff. Having something to look forward to, whether it’s a big family trip or a new movie coming out, can remind your child of the positive things happening in their life.

You could say: “We’ve been talking a lot about what you’re feeling worried about. What’s coming up that you’re excited about?”

Support yourself. Staying calm at this time of year is easier said than done! Take (lots of) deep breaths and try to be a calm, steady presence for your child. Remember: they take their cues from you.

Don’t worry about saying the “perfect thing.” If you’re worried you may have said or done the “wrong” thing in the past — maybe multiple times — it’s not the end of the world. Acknowledge it, apologize, then begin again. (For instance, “Hey, I feel that I’ve been too quick to say, ‘I’ll fix that for you.’ In the future, I’ll try to just listen.”)

No one’s grading your parenting skills. You can have as many chances for do-overs as you want. Just keep doing your best.