Preschoolers or kindergarten students often feel really nervous about their first day of school. Or their first month of school. Even older kids may feel anxious about a new teacher, new friends, or just getting back into a more rigorous schedule after a long and lazy summer.
While family discussions should help ease their worries, I also love the idea of giving kids a little gift that can help ease anxieties about going back to school, like these seven items I put together here. But hey, whatever works for your kid — that’s the very best idea of all.
1. A Children’s Book That Addresses Fear and Anxiety
Reading a book that depicts exactly how you’re feeling too can work wonders for kids, helping to easy anxieties and knowing you’re not alone with your questions or fears.
One great option: I Am Not Scared, the 2017 release from Geissel-winning author Anna Kang. While not specifically about school, it uses charming illustrations and a lot of humor to make the point that trying new things may not be as scary as we expect, and that friends can help us get through the tough times.
I think Kevin Henkes children’s books are always amazing for capturing how kids feel, and his back-to-school specific book, Wemberly Worried, is no exception. The story of an anxious little mouse who worries about her first day of school is a terrific book to read to your little one the night before the big day. Then tuck it into their backpack or daypack as a reminder that they will totally be A-Okay.
2. A Temporary Tattoo With Words of Encouragement
A temporary tattoo from Tattly — makers of the coolest temporary ink —that will remind them you are thinking of her while they are at school may be just the trick to give your kid the strength to face the day. It can be a sweet little temporary tattoo heart so they remember just how much you love them; or an empowering message like “Let’s Do This” to help them feel strong and confident. Whatever it is, it will be a cool visual reminder that they will get through the day, and that you’re right along with them in spirit, if not in person.
3. A Little Toy That Relieves Stress
Fidget spinners are all the rage and while many schools have banned them, the original KCHKUI fidget cubes, which were originally designed to help relieve anxiety (as the name would imply), are truly helpful. They make a perfect gift to give an anxious child on the first day of school — small enough to fit in a pocket and still quiet. Just give your child’s teacher a heads up first.
4. A Lovie or Special Pillow For Rest Time
Preschoolers who may have naptime at school may do well with a lovie or a special toy or doll from home. Or they may feel comforted by a special nap mat or pillow, especially if they get to pick it out themselves.
We love the mesmerizing Mermaid Pillow Co. Positivity Pillows that even our older kids are obsessing over lately. They are sparkly, tactile, and come in kid-pleasing designs, like dinosaurs, pandas, and the cutest little fox pillow.
Of course if the sequins are too much of a distraction, find an emoji pillow, a unicorn, a superhero — whatever you think will make your child feel comforted and not alone.
5. An Affordable Parent-Child Jewelry Set
I like the idea of helping your child feel connected to you on their first day of school with a parent-and-me set of some kind, whether you’re handing over half of a BFF heart necklace set, or somethin glike this parent/child wish bracelet set from BellaElisheva on Etsy. I love it because it’s gender-neutral and really cool. (Dads can wear one too!)
While this mommy and me girl power bracelet set from Sugar and Spunk is decidedly more feminine, it may be just what an anxious little girl needs to channel her inner strength and tackle that school anxiety. If it’s out of stock, you can contact the artist and see if she can make one for you. (Just be sure your child’s school allows jewelry; if not, you can always tuck it into a backpack pocket like a lucky talisman for school day protection!)
6. A Plush Pal Designed to Ease Worries
We’re big fans of Worry Eaters Dolls but for something a little smaller and more affordable, check out the brand new Worry Eaters Key Rings. These mini versions of the adorable plush dolls that “eat” away your child’s worries are perfect for back-to-school time. Tell them to write their worries or concerns on a note, zip it away in the doll’s mouth, then clip the creature to their backpack to carry with them all day. This simple act can mean all the difference for an anxious child.
7. A Handwritten Note from You
Whether you’re using of these 16 free printable lunchbox notes we put together for you or just an old school Post-It, don’t overlook the amazing power of your own words on paper . We happen to love these free printable fill-in-the-blank lunchbox notes from Chickabug because the options seem to cover so many different needs, and whatever words of love and encouragement you write will go a long way. In fact, don’t be surprise if your child ends up with a collection of them that they save until they’ve got kids of their own. Sniff.