Back to School and a Routine

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Monday, August 14, 2023
By Erika Fernandez De Castro

As the summer comes to an end and the back-to-school season approaches, a whirlwind of emotions is stirred that accompanies the return to both the classroom and the routine.

crayons and pencils

Children and adolescents may experience a range of feelings, from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and apprehension.

In navigating these emotional challenges, the guidance and support of parents is essential.  Here are some insights and strategies that can pave the way for a successful transition back to school:

1. Acknowledge Big Feelings
It’s important for parents to recognize that back-to-school emotions are not limited to excitement alone. Children may feel a mix of emotions, including nervousness, stress, or sadness. Parents should validate these feelings and create an environment where children feel safe discussing them. Open conversations can help children process their emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

2. Normalize Anxiety
Anxiety is a common emotion during times of change. Understanding that feeling anxious/scared is normal and not necessarily a cause for concern is important. Instead of dismissing anxiety, parents can help children manage the anxiety by teaching relaxation techniques, such as drawing and coloring, engaging in physical activity, listening to music, or providing extra time doing their favorite hobby. By normalizing anxiety and providing tools to manage it, parents can empower children and teens to face challenges confidently.

3. Establish Predictable Routines
Consistent routines provide a sense of stability and security, particularly during transitions. Establishing predictable schedules for mornings, afternoons, evenings, and homework time can help them with organization and motivation. Routines help children and teens know what to expect, therefore, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. When kids have a clear understanding of their daily activities, they are better equipped to manage their emotions.

4. Encourage Self-Expression
Back-to-school emotions can sometimes be overwhelming for children leading to a struggle in expressing themselves.  In these cases, because the emotions are not being directly expressed, a parent should carry a heightened sense of awareness in those first couple of weeks of school to recognize their child’s struggle. Engage in communication with your child about their day to open that opportunity to share. It is important to cultivate a safe environment where children can freely share their feelings.  This is especially important for teens. Often, teens just want parents to listen without offering advice.

5. Foster a Growth Mindset
Parents should encourage a growth mindset in their children and teenagers. Instead of focusing solely on outcomes, encourage them to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. When kids understand that setbacks and disappointments are a natural part of the learning process, they become more resilient and adaptable. This mindset shift can significantly impact how they perceive and handle back-to-school stressors.

6. Be Attentive to Warning Signs
While many back-to-school emotions are normal, it’s essential for parents to be vigilant for signs that may indicate deeper emotional struggles. If a child’s emotions significantly disrupt their daily functioning, such as a sudden and severe change in behavior, appetite, or sleep patterns, it might be time to seek professional help.
Back-to-school emotions are a natural part of growing up and parents play a pivotal role in helping their children navigate these big feelings.

By staying engaged, being supportive, and open to communication, parents can create a positive environment that promotes emotional well-being and a thriving and successful transition returning to school.


“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss