Going back to school, or for the first time can be extremely nerve-wracking for both kids and parents. Since it's that time of the year, we asked Life Coach Renaye Thornborrow to share her thoughts on fighting back to school jitters. Check out our Q&A below:
Parenthood.com: Why do you think kids get back to school jitters? What can you do to make the transition easier?
Renaye: Nervousness or “back to school jitters” are completely normal for kids (and for grownups) – in fact the brain is wired that way to “protect” you.
You see, whenever you experience something new, your brain builds neural pathways, or “connections in the brain”, that let you know that you’ve experienced it before. That’s how you build memories and learn new things.
If your brain hasn’t experienced something before (like attend a new grade level), there are NO neural pathways. Your mind doesn’t know HOW to think about it. Therefore when your brain experiences something new, it puts your body on alert in case the new thing is dangerous -- your senses become more alert; your heart rate increases; and you many feel nervous, anxious, or excited. Once you start building neural pathways, your brain settles in and says, “OK…I’ve done this before. It’s going to be OK. I can relax now.”
The good news is that you can learn to settle your nerves and boost your self-confidence before you take on the new task. How? By building neural pathways before you’ve actually experienced the new situation. That is what the three steps are designed to help our kids do. They can start building neural pathways by visualizing a successful experience and by putting a plan in place to alleviate any concerns – it lets the brain know that things are going to be “OK”.
Parents can also support their kids by encouraging the use of positive self-talk and reminding them of past successes.