By Bailey Katz
August 25, 2022

It is back to school time and that can bring with it a wide range of emotions for our kids. From excitement to anxiety, it can also bring along stress.

There are some things you can do to help your child manage back-to-school stress.

Bailey Katz, LCPC, Family Therapist with Josselyn’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for teens, offers these five tips to help set up for a successful school year.

Create an after-school plan to release emotions from the school day

  • Empower your child to decide on their own schedule based on what they need. Support them in identifying options for relaxing activities. Some adolescents may need a break after school, and some prefer to do homework right after school.
  • Work with your child to agree on the time for relaxation, chores, and homework.

Help break up overwhelming assignments into manageable chunks

  • Be realistic with capabilities and attention span.
  • Take breaks and celebrate what has been completed.
  • Try the “Pomodoro Technique”: focus for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After four rounds (2 hours), take an extended 20-minute break.

Empower your child to talk with teachers about concerns with classwork or step in to help advocate if this is overwhelming for them.

Talk to your child about the changes you have noticed and ask open ended questions.

  • Ex: “I noticed you have been having trouble sleeping lately, what has been on your mind?” or “It seems like homework has been frustrating this year, what assignments are you working on now?”
  • Refrain from starting questions with the word “why” since it can trigger defensiveness.
  • Adolescents may just want to vent and don’t need us to fix anything. Sitting with them to actively listen can be just as valuable, if not more, than fixing the obstacle for them. It is great practice to ask, “is this something you just want to talk about, or something you want me to help with?”

If your child is not comfortable talking with you about what is going on, suggest making an appointment with the school social worker/counselor and remind your child they are not alone with these difficulties. 

If you notice that your child is struggling to manage stress, don’t hesitate to reach out to your medical provider or a therapist for further assistance. Josselyn’s compassionate team is ready to help.

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