LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – While back-to-school shopping can be exciting; it can also create stress.

Brandon Kays, a UofL mental health therapist, said the change in routine that comes with returning to school can be anxiety-provoking for families.

“I think anything important is worth accepting that we might have a little bit of anxiety. We can worry a little bit about how this year is going to go,” Kays said. “I think it’s normal for parents to be stressed, don’t you? I mean, there’s enough stress in the world, especially for kids in school. With the shortage of teachers, with horrible things that have happened in schools recently.

Kays said part of the stress parents feel comes from not feeling a sense of control.

“I know that one day my child is going to set foot in a school and I’m not going to control it. That sense of control is an illusion,” Kays said. Take away the mass shootings that have happened in the past two years; remove the chaos that exists; in society. We don’t really control. Our children may still be exposed to some of the same things. Our children may still be dealing with peer pressure, toxic groups of friends, or negative behaviors.

Her advice to parents is to make sure you have an open conversation with your family before school starts.

Talk about your collective and individual goals for the year and ask your child what you can do to support them. Make sure your children know there is room to come to them with questions, concerns or confusion.

“You talk about things that are not usually talked about, you are able to give insight into areas that you have already experienced in life; and you are also able to lessen the nerves a little, the anxiety a little; and encourage your child,” Kays said.

Kay added that one of the best things any parent can do is make sure their child knows they love them all the time. regardless of their draft grades, or their performance in sports.

“These are tough times, but the {kids} need to know they have support if they just look for it and look for it,” Kays said.

During Saturday’s back-to-school campaign at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Shively, hundreds of families came out to pick up free backpacks and supplies. The free event is thanks to Education First Foundation; which has partnered with organizations such as Historically Black College and University Alumni, Metro Government, and many others to help parents get a head start on the season.

“Families can come, and when they come and register; all we need is their school and their grade,” said Andrea Houston of the Education First Foundation.

Dionna Slemmons brought her daughter Tianna to get extra supplies before she started 3rd grade.

“So it’s really eased my pain because I don’t have to worry about going to these different stores trying to find things,” Slemmons said.

Slemmons said she agreed with Kay’s advice. She said she has several check-ins with her children every day.

“Of course, there’s a bit of nervousness, but it’s like kids have to grow and learn. And what better way to do that than in school,” Slemmons said.

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