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March 6, 2023

Strategies To Improve Your Child's Behavior at School

Who doesn’t love the start of the school year? New school supplies, new teachers, new clothes, and you get to see your friends again! However, not every child is excited about starting school. In fact, many children (and adults) experience worry and anxiety when it comes to change and transition. But there are some research-based behavioral strategies that you can use to help your child alleviate some of their anxiety and help provide a smooth transition back to school. These strategies can also be used for other situations and school breaks.

  • Visual calendar: A visual can be helpful for students to see when something is approaching. Try printing out a calendar and labeling the first day of school for them. You can have them get creative and decorate. Each day, have them cross off the previous day that has passed. Count how many days left until the start of school (you can also number the days to see how many days are remaining). Get creative with your calendar!
  • Show enthusiasm and excitement: Many times, we feed off other people’s energies. Therefore, it can be helpful to be excited when talking about going back to school. The more excited you are, the more excited your child could be.
  • Pictures: It can be helpful to show pictures of the classroom, teachers, peers, the school, etc., to help in preparing your child for what to expect when walking into school. Not knowing what to expect can be frightening, so prepare them for what they will see on their first day. Try reaching out to your school district to see if you can acquire these things prior to starting school or maybe set up some time to take your child to the school and walk around.
  • Social Stories: You can create a story with pictures and/or just words describing what they can expect from their first day or first week of school. You can work with your school team on this as well. You can also include some basic routines of what to expect such as unpacking, using the bathroom, washing hands, and packing up to go home.
  • Role Play: It may be helpful to role play different routines and different situations that your child may struggle with prior to the first day of school. Role play and practice can help the student practice the skills that could be needed to handle a tricky situation.
  • Reinforcement: You should prepare some reinforcements for the first day of school. For example, allowing your child to wear their favorite clothes, have their favorite foods for breakfast and lunch, allow them to pick out their backpack, etc. so that they can associate a positive reinforcement with going to school. You can also prepare a reinforcer (candy, toy, electronics, etc.) for returning home from school. The more fun and exciting things associated with school, the more likely they are to want to return.

Overall, our kiddos should want to return to school and enjoy it while they are there. The above tips may help alleviate some of the stress or anxiety associated with returning to school. We wish all students a great school year!

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