MADISON, Wis. - Going back to school, or heading there for the first time, can be exciting but also stressful. Kids get to see their friends and meet new teachers, but some might also be feeling social pressures.
In addition, the laid-back days of summer are over, and now the structure of classes and school is back. One thing that could help students deal with it all is the #BeYou mindset that they can own the challenges by being confident in themselves.
"The feelings of having to fit in may be higher than ever, particularly with the rise of social media," SSM Health psychologist Dr. Kathleen Hipke said. "But if kids embrace the 'Be You' attitude, they can be empowered by owning their personality, even though it can be difficult. Whether they want to play sports or music, love plants or love animals, it's all about expressing themselves honestly and authentically."
The transition back to school is different for kids of different ages. Younger kids may be more worried about separation and safety. Parents and caregivers can personalize their reassurances around those topics. For middle schoolers and high schoolers, they're making transitions into large environments with new demands.
"They have a lot of things to juggle, from friendships to teachers and extracurricular activities," Hipke said. "Parents and caregivers should try to be there to listen to them and provide some support (but not too much) because these kids are learning to be more independent."
For some students and their parents, it might all seem too overwhelming at times.
"Minimize the pace of other activities these first few weeks and don't forget about basic things like rest and nutrition," Hipke said. "Kids may be having stressful and emotional school days, so coming home to a peaceful environment might be just what they need to get through the back-to-school season."
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