Talking with nervous kids about going back to school

The three words "back to school" conjure up all kinds of emotions - excitement, fear, frustration, anxiety and happiness. It's time to start getting ready for all of it. 

Getting ready to go back to school is a busy time for both parents and children. But in the midst of the hustle and bustle, it's important to make sure everyone is prepared for a safe and healthy start to the school year. That includes talking about and taking care of those first day jitters.

Doctors with the Cleveland Clinic Children's recommend talking to kids about what to expect.

"Use positive language as you're doing that. That creates a little bit of intrigue, curiosity, and potential excitement on the child's part as well, so that if they know that this is a fun and exciting place to be, they're more likely to want to go," says Dr. Kimberly Giuliano from Cleveland Clinic Children's. 

It may be helpful to visit the school ahead of time, even if it's only to see the building and explore the playground. 

For kids who are heading to school by themselves for the first time, knowing and understanding safety rules is key.

"As they get onto the school bus, they should understand that they need to stay back from the school bus until it comes to a complete stop, the door is opened, and the bus driver waves them on. Approaching the bus too quickly could be very dangerous," reminds Dr. Giuliano. 

Older kids who are riding or walking to school need to know traffic safety at intersections, cross walks, and to look for turning vehicles.

If you have a high schooler who's driving themselves or younger siblings to school, make sure they're aware of school zone speeds and the dangers of distracted driving.

"This is a great privilege, but it's also a great responsibility. And so the excitement of heading off to school in a car for the first time really needs to be weighed with the seriousness and the responsibility at hand."

And if parents and caretakers are worried about the safety on the bus, Michigan State Police have been busy inspecting thousands of school buses. To check out the results, just look for the code on the side of your child's bus. 

"There's a QR code that's on every bus, and if you go up and you have a QR reader - you just kind of take a picture of it with your smart phone - and the latest inspection for that school district and that bus will show up right on your smart phone so you know that that bus is safe," says MSP Lt. Mike Shaw.

Knowing the bus meets safety standards can make parents feel better. If the kids are nervous, too, the doctor says remind them that it's normal to feel this way, and they're in a safe place. Practice skills to help them cope in a new surrounding.