Back-to-school anxiety is very common, and this year, we expect that many children will be feeling anxious about returning to school after such an unusual school year. To support caregivers and parents, we’ve put together a few simple tips that can help manage anxiety in children going back to school.
One simple way to help children manage anxiety is to read about it! Books about anxiety are great because you can talk about another character’s experience, rather than focusing on the child in front of you. Kids can sometimes have a hard time talking about their own experiences, but often find it easier to talk about a character in a book or movie.
Below is a list of books that can serve as great entry points to discussion about worry, or you can read one that you have in your home library. Anything that shows a character working through worry is great.
While reading, point out any examples of times when the character is showing worry. You might ask the child to pause the story and share any time they hear something that sounds like worry. This helps the child identify worry responses and allows them to tune into any of their own responses that may mirror that of the characters.
At the end of the story, consider asking questions such as:
How did you know the character was worried?
What did the character try?
What worked for the character to help manage their worries?
Do you think any of those might work for you when you feel worried?
You might consider making a list of solutions to refer back to when the child is worried. Ask if they’d like to try a strategy from the book, and then check the list to see what might work.
Books to consider:
Is a Worry Worrying You? – F. Wolff & H.M. Savitz
Wemberly Worried – K. Henkes
Tiger, Tiger Is it True? – B. Katie
Moose the Worry Mutt Goes to Doggie Daycare – J. Crowly & K. Ohlenforst
What to Do When you Worry Too Much – D. Huebner
Cool Cats, Calm Kids – M. L. Williams (strategy book)