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4/25/22 blog post

5 ways to relieve end-of-school year stress

how you can help if your child feels fear and anxiety as school ends

The end of the school year can be stressful for both students and parents. As final exams and assignments become due, there is also a looming threat of big changes on the horizon. This can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. Our clinical experts share 5 things you can do to help relieve some of that stress as the school year comes to a close. 

1. Stick to the schedule 

Schedules can sometimes slide away as the school year winds down. But now is not the time to let go of routines.  

“I think it is helpful for families to have schedules and routines that they maintain through the end of the school year. I think it's easy to become complacent and fall back on "it's almost the end of the year" and let routines like bedtime, and meal times slip. The importance of consistency cannot be overstated,”  says Emilia Rose, LPCC-S, Clinical Services Manager for Community Behavioral Health Services. 

Sticking to a schedule can help keep a sense of calm as your children prepare for other transitions down the road.  

If you haven’t started a bedtime routine yet, it’s not too late. We have a Bedtime Routine Checklist to help you get started.  

2. Stay active  

This time of year, the weather is warming and the sun is staying out longer, so this is the perfect time to keep the mind and body busy to relieve stress.  

“Get outside and play or exercise, make a small and east to-do list to keep you on task and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Also, try to make some summer fun plans to look forward to as you are winding down on the school year,”  says Heather Nogle, BSW, LSW, Youth and Family Resource Coordinator    

Find some activity ideas, try using our Mental Health Fitness Challenge

3. Plan for the summer

Uncertainty about the future can cause anxiety and stress for your child. Planning ahead for the summer can help children know what to expect and alleviate that stress. It can be difficult for some kids to go from the structure of a school-year schedule to a more laid-back schedule.  Take some time to talk with them about what their summer will look like. Here are some questions they might appreciate an answer for:

  • How can they expect to spend their days this summer? Are they going to a babysitter? Daycare? Camp? 
  • Will you be off of work or working during the day?
  • What sort of fun things do they have to look forward to?

Also, take some time to get your child involved in the planning of summer activities. Ask what kind of activities they want to do. Come up with a summer “bucket list.”

"When it gets harder to get your kids up to finish out the school year, you can remind them that soon it will be summer break, and there are plenty of things to look forward to," says Emily Weitz BSW, LSW Outreach Coordinator, Community Behavioral Health. 

Looking for ideas to keep boredom at bay? We've got a list of Boredom Busters especially made for the summer time. 

4. Scale back on activities

May is a time for a lot of activities and gatherings you may feel that you are obligated to attend. From graduations of all types to field trips and field days that need parent help, first communions, Mother’s Day, end of the sports season banquets, and other can feel that an invitation comes every day. Definitely a recipe for feeling stressed and overwhelmed. During this time, remember that it is okay to say "no" to an event if it's going to add more stress to your life. Remember that for every extra thing you add to your plate, something else will have to be let go.

"Don't burn yourself out by taking on too much, and be kind to yourself if attending these meaningful celebrations means a little extra mess around the house or a being behind on the laundry.  Keep in mind what your family’s priorities are and be purposeful in the events that you agree to go to," says Weitz.

Take time to determine how certain events make you feel by using our Emotional Empowerment Mood Meter. 

5. Start the conversation  

We believe that having conversations is an important part of caring for your children’s mental wellness. Discussing thoughts and emotions are important for learning how you can help your child. Now is a great time to start the conversation with your family about the emotions and stress everyone is likely feeling.  

“Talk to your kids about this being a stressful time for others too. You can help them recognize that other people’s stress may be shown in a lot of ways and that it is not your children’s fault if they get bad reactions. Having this discussion also helps build empathy in your children," says Rose, LPCC-S. 

If you’re struggling with how to start the conversation, check our Conversation Starters sheet with more than 40 icebreaker topics perfect for any age. 

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