For many families, preparing to send their children back to school can bring with it changes in routines, time management and navigating new social situations. Experts at the University of Texas at Dallas say parents can help prepare their students before they head back to class and throughout the new school year.
First Day of School Jitters
Dr. Jackie Nelson, assistant professor developmental psychology at UT Dallas, studies family stress and the emotional development of children. Nelson says, children may experience stress at the start of a new school year unbeknownst to their parents. Nelson says parents can help their school-aged students by doing the following:
- Recognize symptoms of school-related stress
- Helping kids reduce stress, which can alleviate some of the potential emotional, academic, and physical consequences
- Maintain a routine to keep the stress levels at home to a minimum. Parents need to deal with their own back-to-school stress in a healthy way to prevent escalating their children’s stress.
Know the Signs of Bullying
Dr. Nadine Connell, assistant professor of criminology at UT Dallas, says knowing the signs of bullying behavior is critical for students, parents, teachers and school administrators. Dr. Connell can says there are many ways parents and teachers can recognize and intervene when bullying occurs.
- Bullying can be more prevalent during the beginning of the school year as kids are trying to adjust to new peer groups and new social situations.
- Talking to kids about these situations can help prevent further problems including self-esteem issues and even violence
- The earlier teachers and parents intervene, the easier it is for a situation to be diffused.
As young children enter middle school and high school, they may also be entering the realm of social media and online communities. Dr. Janet Johnson, clinical assistant professor at UT Dallas, says there are many things parents can do to help kids navigate the intricacies of online communication. Parents who are wanting to coach their kids on proper use of social media as school starts might want to remind their children that:
- Social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are public forums. Even though posts are meant for a specific audience of friends and acquaintances, be aware that other audiences may be viewing your posts.
- Not everything is Facebook appropriate, and there is such a thing as over-sharing. Be mindful of the boundaries between public and private.
- Photos and posts may be searchable even after they have been deleted. Treat every online communication as if everyone can see it.
- Talk to your older children about the dangers of texting and driving.