Dealing With Back to School Blues

The British Columbia Psychological Association Offers Tips for Parents and Children as the Summer Comes to a Close

VANCOUVER, Sept. 1, 2011 /CNW/ - Parents have a lot on their plate: mortgage payments, healthcare, caring for elderly parents, raising kids, just to name a few. As the new school year approaches, they face additional stressors -- paying for back-to-school supplies, clothes and possibly tuition. Many parents may also be worried about their children starting a new school, changing school districts, facing a more rigorous academic year or dealing with difficult social situations. Often the fear of the unknown -- classmates, teachers, the school building -- is the most stressful for family members, whether it's the children hopping on the school bus or their parents who have to wave goodbye.

According to Dr. Derek Swain, a registered psychologist and school counsellor, "An important thing for parents to remember is that anxiety can be contagious as children learn quickly from the significant people in their lives.  If parents act out their own stress, then they are communicating to children both that an event is stressful and that children should react in a certain way.  On the other hand, if parents respond in a calm way, they convey the message that the event is manageable and that children can likewise respond calmly. Taking a few deep breaths and reminding oneself to slow down and think calmly are the best ways to respond to new situations and to prevent an escalation in worrying." 

On September 12th, at 7:30pm BCPA will be co-sponsoring an information evening about separation anxiety in children at the Vancouver Public library. This event is free and open to the public to attend. For more information on this event please visit our website at In addition to this, the British Columbia Psychological Association offers the following back-to-school tips:

Practice the first day of school routine: Getting into a sleep routine before the first week of school will aide in easing the shock of waking up early. Organizing things at home -- backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money -- will help make the first morning go smoothly. Having healthy, yet kid-friendly lunches will help keep them energized throughout the day. Also, walking through the building and visiting your child's locker and classroom will help ease anxiety of the unknown.

Get to know your neighbours: If your child is starting a new school, walk around your block and get to know the neighbourhood children. Try and set up a play date, or, for an older child, find out where neighbourhood kids might go to safely hang out, like the community pool, recreation center or park.

Talk to your child: Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share their burden. Inquire as to what they liked about their previous school or grade and see how those positives can be incorporated into their new experience.

Empathize with your children: Change can be difficult, but also exciting. Let your children know that you are aware of what they're going through and that you will be there to help them in the process. Nerves are normal, but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. It is important to encourage your children to face their fears instead of falling into the trap of encouraging avoidance.

Get involved and ask for help: Knowledge of the school and the community will better equip you to understand your child's surroundings and the transition he or she is undergoing. Meeting members of your community and school will foster support for both you and your child. If you feel the stress of the school year is too much for you and your child to handle on your own, seeking expert advice from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, will help you better manage and cope.


With over 750 members from across British Columbia, BCPA represents a valuable Healthcare resource. Since 1938, the BCPA has represented psychologists in British Columbia. It is a voluntary body and is committed to advancing the delivery and availability of Psychological Services along with promoting the psychological well being of all British Columbians.

SOURCE British Columbia Psychological Association

For further information:

For Further Information, or to set up an interview, please contact:
Dr. Derek Swain Registered Psychologist,
Vice President
British Columbia Psychological Association
#204-1909 West Broadway,
Vancouver, BC V6J 1Z3
Ph: 604-377-5277
Fax: 604-730-0502

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British Columbia Psychological Association

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