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Ridgewood Psychologist Shares Tips For Easing Back To School Anxieties

Michelle Y. Pearlman, Ph.D., is an anxiety specialist at the Venn Center in Ridgewood.
Michelle Y. Pearlman, Ph.D., is an anxiety specialist at the Venn Center in Ridgewood. Photo Credit: Contributed

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Who wants to go back to school? Easing into a new routine can be nerve-wracking for everyone. After months of carefree summer days, it's normal for kids -- and their parents -- to feel some back to school jitters. 

Michelle Y. Pearlman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and anxiety specialist at the Venn Center in Ridgewood, offers the following suggestions for facilitating the transition.

  • Re-establish a consistent bedtime. About a week before school resumes, re-establish a bedtime routine and talk to your kids about what expectations are for when they will hit the hay this new school year. Keep in mind most students from school age through the teen years require at least nine to 10 hours of sleep a night, so think about what time they need to awaken for the day to determine the right bedtime for each child in your family.
  • Set positive goals. Each school year tends to bring about new challenges and increased expectations.
  • Talk with each of your kids separately about what they hope to accomplish in the coming year, and what steps they can take to get there. Goals may be social in nature like trying out a new sport or an after school activity, or they may be more academic like improving study habits or mastering a challenging subject area. The bottom line is to encourage students to think about what they want and what they can do to make it happen.
  • Work together to anticipate problems and create solutions. Listen to your kids openly and without judgement, normalize their feelings (i.e., “I can see why you would feel that way), and ask them what you can do to help.
  • Communicate. Foster discussions with your kids about what difficulties they anticipate so that you can help them better prepare, and point out when and how they can ask for help if they need it.
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