Managing Stress as School Starts: Transitioning to Middle School

Category: Play Therapy

Marta A G Franca, MA, MFT Intern

bus-1319360_960_720It’s back to school time. For many parents and children transitioning to middle school, this can be a stressful time. Many children have high expectations about middle school life. It’s a time when children will be faced with new social and academic experiences. They will be meeting new people, will have new school subjects, have more extra-curricular activities and more teachers. To increase the chances of children having a smooth transition to middle school it’s important to learn to manage stress during the process. Below are a few important tips to consider to assist parents and children to make the transition to middle school a positive one.

First, it helps to decrease anxiety when parents and children are organized. Participating in the school orientation events and getting familiar with the school campus and schedule help children to be prepared for the first day of school. Anxiety will increase when children are not familiar with the new school campus. Take the time to help your children to be familiar with the classrooms, cafeteria and restrooms. When possible, have your children learn where their classrooms and restrooms are located before school starts.

Second, be on time. Starting attending a new school and being late are very anxiety provoking for children. Help your children to be prepared for the first day of school by assisting them to get their school materials ready the night before school start. Drive to school a few minutes earlier. This way your children will have time to locate their classroom and meet new students.

Third, get to know your children’s teachers and school personnel. Attending school events such as, Back to School night, in the beginning of the school year will provide the opportunity to get to know teachers and the school principal. Have the teachers contact information and be familiar with children’s courses’ syllables. Visit and get to know the school website and school resources.

Fourth, assist your children with homework. Children benefit from having structure and routine. Have a place and set up a time for children to do their homework. Help your children with their homework, but do not do their homework for them. It is part of the children’s learning process to make mistakes and learn from them. Middle school is an opportunity for children to grow and learn to be independent.

Finally, it’s crucial for parents to take care of themselves. Children sense their parents’ anxiety. When parents take the time to manage their level of stress they will be better prepared to help children when problems arise. Raising children is stressful and their school experiences will trigger unpleasant feelings on parents. Pay attention to children’s emotional status regarding school academics and social experiences. Seek help if children start presenting behavior and emotional challenges in school. The sooner the children starts receiving help to manage stress and their social and emotional issues, the higher the chances they will succeed in middle school and in life.

We at Treehouse Family Counseling Services are here to help. Contact us at

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