Managing the School Morning Stress

I am very lucky that I no longer have to manage the Monday to Friday school morning stress. It’s a killer, isn’t it? It’s the perfect time for everyone to feel anxious, under pressure and have a fizzy/meltdown.  It is also a transition time so children who may be suffering from generalised/ separation anxiety or other difficulties, getting out of the door can be problematic. You won’t be surprised to hear that many of my clients bring the school morning stress in the clinic, Here are my top ideas to prevent the morning stress.

1.Plan ahead to Prevent Morning Stress

If you can try to get to complete as much as you can the night before for example:

  • Making the packed Lunch
  • Check school activities
  • Packing the backpack
  • Ensuring you have the right sports kit
  • Putting out their school uniform
  • Packing homework

Talk it through, help your child to understand that you want to prevent any big feelings, you could say

“Let’s start the Autumn positively, how could we make the mornings calm and organised” this would be a great family meeting topic. If children go to school with the wrong shoes or sports kit, it may contribute to problems at school.

Buy a planner everyone who works with me knows I always recommend one. Mark out what your child is doing in the week, check it at night but not too close to bedtime so they have time to manage any worries.

2. Offer an incentive/reward for Calm and Organised Mornings

I am not a great believer in spending lots of money on rewards, I think offering special time or family game nights using a  point system has greater meaning. So your child may receive one point for each task. So many points could lead to a special treat. One of my parents at one of my workshops suggested a marble jar, so for each task completed a marble was placed in the jar and these were exchanged at the end of the week. Alternatively, you have a gratitude jar that could be read out each night.



Just remember when you are offering rewards, ensure that your child will succeed, if they have difficulties with self-regulation, or executive functioning difficulties in organization, planning, and sequencing this task will be hard. Don’t forget to praise, encouraging words matter!

3. Use visual cue sheets

Self-control is not innate, it takes children time.  Executive functioning skills such as processing, planning,  sequencing, and organisation skills start to develop at 5 onwards, however, older children who suffer from ADHD, Dyslexia, and Sensory Processing issues may struggle for a lot longer. Help them to feel good about themselves by making a visual cue card with clear and simple instructions, have realistic expectations of what they can manage.

For an example of a free visual cue download for younger children, go to my blog  at

or for a checklist for older children download here on link*****Stress Free School Morning visual cue tick box download**** or you view it here

Stress free morning checklist free downlaod

4. Manage the “big feelings”, yours and theirs

Morning stress is a key stress moment, so try to de-escalate any situations by remaining calm. be clear with everyone what you expect. Challenge any negative thoughts by employing self-talk, so thinking statements such as:

  • “I am okay!”
  • “We will survive it”
  • “I can do it!”
  • “It’s okay, we are just taking one step at a time”
  • “Tomorrow is a new day and we can try again”.

Model self talk to your children so they can be the boss of anxiety or anger! Your child may be feeling really anxious and that may present itself as tummy aches and headaches, check out my blog on separation anxiety, it has lots of links to other blogs I have written on ideas to manage anxiety.

Be realistic, remember it can a take a long time for your child to develop the necessary executive functioning skills. Be grateful and praise yourself and your children for the small steps you all make every day. If you are struggling for a long period seek help, contact me for a consultation or attend a workshop

Good luck with the school mornings in September.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for your commitment to the wellbeing of your child and your family and for your willingness to keep learning and growing. Remember: parenting is hard work and you all deserve support.  Please share the gratitude with others and if you would like my Facebook page that would be great too. With Love Catherine


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