Stop the Back to School Jitters: Tips from Kids Help Phone

Back to school jitters

“I’m scared to go to high school. I don’t think I’ll fit in. And anyways how do people make friends there? They barely have time to hang out and people don’t go to the same class as you every single period… so how is it possible? I don’t get it. What if it takes me so long that I end up alone for the rest of the year?” – Real post from

Every summer, Kids Help Phone counsellors hear from kids who have vivid ideas about what might happen when they go back to school in September.

Young students who are transitioning into middle or high school sometimes fear that their new school will be violent, socially isolating, or that their peers will pressure them to do drugs.

“Over the summer, kids have time to create scenarios which become more and more overwhelming,” says Alain Johnson, Kids Help Phone Clinical Director. “Often, kids get these ideas from images of student life in the media, or from older siblings who are trying to scare them.”

To a kid who’s been bullied, moving on to a new school might seem to promise that old problems will disappear. For a kid who has felt isolated, a new class or a fresh wardrobe might be imagined as a quick way to increased popularity.

But after the first few weeks of school pass, many kids see their expectations falling short of reality. For kids with strong hopes or fears, the start of a new school year can be disorienting or disappointing.

Helping kids prepare for going back to school is about helping them to build realistic expectations.

“A kid’s biggest hope or worst fear probably won’t come true,” Alain says. “Help them grasp reality and understand what grounds their fears, or hopes, are based on.”


Here are some of Alain’s tips on talking to kids about going back to school:


Take time to listen. Start the conversation with an open statement, like, “tell me what you’re thinking.”

Open up their hopes or fears to other possibilities. Ask them, “what if it doesn’t happen that way?” Help them understand that things could turn out differently.

Use your kid’s past experiences. Maybe they changed teachers last year. Ask your kid how they handled this change and used their competencies and skills to work out a Plan B. The examples you draw from don’t have to relate to something that happened to them at school.

Break down generalizations and big numbers.

You don’t have to lecture kids on what’s bad for them, just let them know how to say no. And that you are there to listen and support, judgement-free.

Find a time when you and your child are in a good mood before you talk. Don’t start on a negative. Say, “I’ve noticed…” or start with something anybody would hear or see: “I’m not judging you. I just want to understand.”

Respect your child’s timing. If they don’t want to talk about it right then, that’s okay, as long as you make sure you do commit to having that discussion. You could also write letters, or email. As long as there is an exchange it doesn’t matter how you do it.

Visit together. This website offers a lot of information about going back to school, as well as other resources on topics that matter most to young people. Let your child know that they can always call and talk to a counsellor here at 1-800-668-6868 FREE.

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I founded Mums 'n Chums in 2009 after realizing that the area I live in was drastically underserviced as compared to surrounding areas for support and activities for growing families. Mums 'n Chums grew popular very quickly and I have been dedicated to nurturing that growth through frequent networking, social media engagement and in person meetups. By the end of its first year, Mums 'n Chums had close to 500 members and was receiving regular inquiries from fans outside of its service area, asking when we would be expanding to serve them as well. After much careful research and polling, I expanded the site in May of 2011 to cover the entire North end of the GTA (from Cambridge to Markham), areas I believe are still receiving far less attention than they deserve from other sites and family services. We also changed the focus from small scale local mom and tot meetups to more of an informative purpose, closing down our forum and adding several talented contributors to the blog. We do still offer several large scale family events per year, such as our popular Birthday Bash events and our Holiday Bash in December. Our contests have also become a member favourite, and we strive to offer amazing prizes from trusted brands like Babies R Us, La Roche Posay, Johnson's Baby and many more. In March of 2016, after months of work spent migrating all of the site's content to a new platform, Mums 'n Chums re-launched with its fresh, new look. The changes and expansion have proven a great success and we're still getting inquiries from several other cities within the Greater Toronto Area, whom we have decided to serve as well. I have built this site and its' reputation carefully and look forward to continuing its growth!

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