Calming the End-of-School Anxiety

School OutBy Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs

Have you perhaps noticed that your child may be a little bit more irritable, stressed or disregulated in the last few weeks? It could very well be caused by end-of-school anxiety.

A major contributor could likely be underlying and rarely considered separation anxiety. We usually think of separation anxiety in terms of being away from parents. However, we are now asking kids to separate from their teachers, their friends and the routine that they have followed all year. Add to that, the unknown of what the new school year will bring in terms of all of these things, and you can see why kids may be feeling more antsy than usual.

Other factors that may be impacting your child include that they are likely going through or have just gone through standardized testing (in Massachusetts, we have MCAS). We should also consider the multiple disruptions of daily routines with field trips, field days, concerts, assemblies, and all of the other out-of-the-ordinary activities that make-up the month of June for many kids.

How to help your child through the last few school days?

  1. Acknowledge that summer separations and all of the “last” things of the year are a little sad for everyone. Let your child talk about it if he or she is feeling anxious.
  2. Counter that with explaining that it is another transition and that your child has likely already made several successful ones each new school year. Reinforce that it is okay to move on.
  3. Focus on the summer ahead and talk to your child about fun summer plans.
  4. Encourage your child to write a thank you note to favorite educators or classroom buddies. Your child could bring in something for kids to autograph. You might recall asking kids to sign autograph books when you were a child.

And hey, moms and dads, we know the end of the school year brings a lot of “extra” into your life too, and the lives of all of the school personnel who work with our kids each day. So if we are all a little grumpy right now, this is why. Hang in there. Before we all know it, we will be at the beach, going to camp and eating too many popsicles!