It’s that time of year again when your little ones’ lives are filled with new friends, evening homework, and shifting bedtime routines.
All this excitement and change can bring unintended stress and back-to-school anxiety to our kiddos, which can, in turn, make their settling down to sleep much more of a nightmare than a dream for us parents.
Because anxiety at school can increase your child’s stress, which may make evenings more worrisome for both parents and little ones, we asked our resident sleep expert, Janet K. Kennedy, to shine some light on school anxiety and best practices to overcome it.
Top Back-to-School Tips for Kids:
1. If schedules have pushed later, gradually move them back to the school schedule in the week or so before school starts. If you have a late sleeper, start waking your child up earlier to reset the body clock. Remember: a child who sleeps late won’t be able to go to sleep early.
2. Don’t discuss fears or anxieties in bed. Set aside time before the bedtime routine to discuss and work through what’s bothering them and also what’s exciting to them. The bed should remain a calm and happy place, not a problem from problem-solving or anxious crimination.
3. Don’t tell your child to try to sleep if they say they’re not tired. Trying to sleep when you’re not sleepy makes it even harder. If your child says they’re not sleepy, encourage them to do something quiet until their body is ready to sleep.
Moshi stories are a great way for kids to focus on something pleasant, keeping the mind occupied while the body’s fatigue pulls them into sleep. Blurp Goes Back to School and Making Friends with Flumpy are perfect stories in the Moshi app for this transition. Remember: The body knows how to sleep; we just have to get the mind out of its way.
4. If bedtime routines have relaxed over the holiday break, bring back the structure. You can change up the elements of the routine as kids get older and need change, but having a consistent routine in place is crucial. Remember that structure and routines help children relax even when they initially protest or test limits.
5. Don’t over-emphasize the importance of sleep. Saying things like: ‘You need a good night’s sleep because you have a big day tomorrow,’ simply adds pressure and creates performance anxiety. Instead, focus on messages of resilience like: ‘Your body is excited about school and it’s going to help you have a good day, even if you’re tired.’
6. Validate your child’s emotions before presenting the positives. Trying to convince your child that there’s nothing to worry about will backfire. Instead, try acknowledging that it can be hard to start something new/get back into school rhythm, but there will also be lots of good stuff—and you’ll be there to help them through it all.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks help lower stress, reduce anxiety and make bedtime a dream for the whole family!
Moshi provides several tools to help calm your child’s worries all in one place. From melodic bedtime stories to simple Meditations for kids, helping your little one destress and relax after a long day of learning and growing has never been so easy.