10 ways to combat Back-to-school wobbles

Childhood Magic
4 min readMar 7, 2021
  1. Be prepared and then relax the night before!
    Have everything by the door the night before to avoid last-minute panics. Try on trousers and shoes to check they still fit! Try to have a relaxing evening the night before. Take a bath, read a story, or have a back-to-school movie night. Here are some movie suggestions.

2. It’s good to talk.
Talk about things that worry them and if there is a solution to them. Reassure them that it’s normal to feel anxious. Heysigmund.com has a whole host of articles and videos for parents and children explaining anxiety and ways to cope with it.

3. Take a little piece of my heart
As Dr. Mary O’Kane suggests, you could draw a hug button, which is a heart or smiley face on their hand or wrist where they will be able to see it. Another alternative is a pebble in their pocket which matches a pebble that you also have. The child can feel this in their pocket if they feel anxious and feel comforted by a connection with you. Dr. Mary O’Kane has recorded lots of videos with tips for parents to support their anxious child. I like the “Don’t be a Second Chicken” video below reminding parents to find their brave so that they can boost their child’s confidence.


4. Be their anchor
As Dr. Malie Coyne suggests in her book, Love in Love out you can be an anchor for your anxious child. Originally I interpreted this as launching your child from a safe base like an anchor would launch a ship from the port. Recently when helping my son to label a plant, I realized that the roots of a plant keep it anchored in the soil so that they don’t wobble around so it could also be interpreted in this way.

5. Step by Step. Focus on parts of the journey to school.
We go up and down some big hills on our way to school and pretend that we’re on a different rollercoaster every morning and afternoon. If time allows, you could plan a pit stop at their favourite place on the way to school and keep an eye out for their friends.

6. Every cloud has a silver lining.
I remember this quote from my Snoopy umbrella when I was little! It may help to focus on aspects of the school day that they do enjoy such as friendships, Pokemon card swapping after school, dessert with custard in the dining hall or treats in their packed lunch. Plan some of their favourite activities to look forward to after school and get a blast of fresh air on the way home if you can.

7. Encourage them to take a mindful moment, if they start feeling anxious.
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin focuses on how to cope when we find something daunting. These strategies could be handy during the school day.

8. It’s back to the old routine for parents too.
Emphasize the fact that you will be doing lots of mundane jobs at home so they don’t feel that they are missing out.

9. Send messages for them to find during the day.
Put messages in their shoe, packed lunch box, school bag, coat pocket, with thoughts for the day or jokes to make them laugh and help them to feel a sense of connection with you while you are apart.

10. Name that tune!
Hum their favourite tune on the way to school to relax them and ensure that the tune stays in their head all day. I recently read this article by Greg Bottrill and it is fascinating how humming a tune can inspire someone else to start humming and invoke strong connections and fond memories. We recently accidentally started humming Blinding Lights by the Weekend which helped us tackle a mountain of tidying and get through it much more quickly!

I hope the first day back goes well. Please share strategies that help you and your children.