By Damian Ternullo, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair Division



(This article originally appeared in the Western Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health Summer 2015 Issue)


It’s that time of year again when our children have to “reset their clocks,” lunches will need to be made, and the morning routine will again go back to running out the door in an effort to get our kids to the bus on time. It is important to get back into the nightly routine prior to the evening before the first day of school.



With the start of school sometimes children can feel uneasy or overwhelmed. In fact, many students will feel this way. Point out the positive aspects such as seeing friends they may not have seen over the summer. Perhaps meet up with other children in the neighborhood prior to meeting up at the bus stop on the first day. Depending on how anxious your child is, it’s okay to drive them or walk with them to-and-from school on that first day.



If your child is going to walk to school, identify other children in the neighborhood they may be able to walk with. Go over the route they will walk beforehand and practice it. Children can be impulsive, and don’t always have very good pedestrian skills, so plan on accompanying them until you are comfortable.



This is a topic where setting boundaries and expectations is important:

  •  No electronic devices prior to finishing homework.
  • Set up an environment that is quiet and allows your child to do their homework. Ensure that it is a consistent space either in their room or elsewhere at home that can always be used by your child.



Bullying is another issue that some of our children will face once school starts up again. There are a few important basic skills that we can teach them when they are face-to-face with a child who is bullying them:

  • Stand tall, speak in a firm voice, look the bully in the eye.
  • Use statements such as “I don’t like what you are doing” or “DON’T talk to me like that!”
  • Always teach them it is okay to ask for help from a teacher or other school administrator.
  • Finding activities that interest your child also helps them build self-esteem and make additional friends.
  • Monitor your child’s social media for any evidence of cyberbullying.
  • Help your child support and stand up for other children who may be getting bullied. Simply including these children in some of their activities will make the bullied child feel less singled-out and alone.



Additional resources on back to school topics: