How to handle back-to-school stress

DENVER – The back-to-school jump can be tricky for students as well as parents. Everyone has to adjust to a busier pace around the house after a laid-back summer.

Some days are easier when it comes to getting out the door on time. At school, students are meeting teachers and will soon be studying new material. If a child changes schools, there are new classmates to get to know and friends to make. After school, there's the rush to extracurricular sports and clubs. Nights have to be structured to allow time for homework.

9NEWS psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel says preparation and communication are key to making a smooth transition.

For families who have yet to return to the new school year, Dr. Wachtel says now is the time to do some prep work.

"You have to transition away from all that super fun stuff and do things like getting ready to do homework," Dr. Wachtel said. "Even for young kids, they'll have stuff they will need to do every day. It'd be great to take 30 minutes every day and get them to start practicing that homework."

Dr. Wachtel also suggests parents give their older children some leeway getting back into routine, especially when it comes to getting homework done.

"You want to ease them into it a little bit," Dr. Wachtel said.

Dr. Wachtel also says this is a time when parents need to be open and communicating with their kids. A positive attitude from a parent will go far in easing some concerns a child may have - especially if they're starting a new school.

"If they're young or have a tough time verbalizing their fears, have them draw pictures of going to school for the first day or walking to their classroom. Ask them questions like 'how do you feel here?' 'are you happy?' 'are you scared?' That really gets a lot of kids to open up," he said.

For parents of older children, he suggests a little more strategic communication. There are more pressures from peers as well a more demanding workload.

Dr. Wachtel says avoid asking certain questions every day that can be perceived as pestering. Those include: 'How are you doing?' 'Did you have a good day?' 'Did anybody bother you?'

"Let them know you're available and willing to listen to anything they say and that they won't get in trouble if they talk to you," Dr. Wachtel said. "Then you have to trust that they will come to you if they need you."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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