Summertime is coming to an end, and with that comes all of the back to school anxiety and jitters that are common amongst children. Your child may experience common physical effects of anxiety associated with back to school time including symptoms from stomachaches to sleeping problems. They will also experience emotional stress from the fear of making new friends, meeting new teachers, fears of being bullied, the pressure of making good grades, and worries of being unpopular. With that said, it important for parents to first remember that these physical and emotional feelings are very common, and even the most well-adjusted kids are bound to feel some sort of pressure when they return to school.
The question becomes: what can parents do to help their children cope with the physical and emotional stresses associated with the back to school season? In this article, I will provide you with some tips that I’ve shared with parents in the past that have deemed to be very helpful.
Tip #1: Put your child on a healthy sleeping pattern right away!
Children need at least 8 to 10 hours of REM sleep each night. Children that do not get adequate sleep the night before tend to be groggy, grumpy, and thus have a harder time concentrating in class, not to mention tend to become more sensitive to social disputes. Sleep also contributes to a healthier immune system. You can help your child enter each school day with a more energetic and positive approach simply by making sure they get the right amount of sleep each night.
Here’s how to set a healthy sleeping pattern with your children:
1. Establish a set bedtime and wake time for the weekdays.Make sure that you specify that this time is non-negotiable.
2. Set up some rules for 1 hour prior to bedtime.There are many things that can affect how well your children sleep at night. If you set up some ground rules, then you’ll see better sleeping habits:
~Make sure they eat dinner no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. If they eat just before bedtime, then chances are they will not fall asleep right away. Your child can have a warm glass of milk or some fruit just before bed if they are hungry.
~Cut out all physical activities no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. Children need adequate downtime to get their heart rate down.
~Cut out any intense “stimulating” activities no later than 1 hour prior to bedtime. This includes video games and computers. Both can be very addictive and keep your child’s mind over-stimulated even after they’ve stopped.
3. Establish a 20 – 30-minute nightly “calm-down” bedtime routine.
The routine should include taking a bath, putting on their pajamas, reading, and other relaxing activities. TV viewing at bedtime is not recommended because it may affect your child’s ability to fall asleep.