|Posted on August 1, 2018 at 9:20 PM|
With a new school year comes excitement, anticipation, and a sense of a fresh start. It’s the beginning of new classes, new teachers, new friendships, and sometimes even a new school campus. All of this newness can be something fun and exciting to look forward to.
For some kids, however, the beginning of school can bring on anxiety and nervousness. Not knowing what their new classes will be like, who will be in them, and who their teachers are can bring about stress and anxiety. Anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change, especially for first-timers, such as those starting kindergarten, middle school, high school, and even college. The transition can also be stressful and disruptive for the entire family.
Some common worries include:
Who will be my new teacher?
Will I have friends in my classes?
Who will I sit with at lunch?
Will I fit it?
Will I look stupid?
What if I miss the bus?
Although it is normal for your child to have worries, it is crucial to make your child attend school. Avoidance of school will only increase and reinforce your child’s fear, making it more and more difficult to attend. Besides getting behind in the schoolwork (which can create anxiety itself), children who stay home because of anxiety miss opportunities to practice social skills, developing and fostering close friendships, and being acknowledged and praised for their talents.
Below are some general strategies parents can use to deal with back-to-school worries:
Look after the basics – hunger and tiredness
Nobody copes well when they’re hungry or tired. Provide your child with adequate meals and snacks on a regular schedule. Determine an appropriate bedtime for your child based on their age and enforce it. These routines can actually help decrease your child’s anxiety.
Encourage your child to talk about their fears
Ask your child what they are worried about specifically. Set up a regular time to talk with your child when you are able to provide your undivided attention. Listen to them without judging or minimizing their concerns. Reassure them, but also help them develop a plan to cope with what they are afraid of.
Focus on the positive
Encourage your child to re-direct their attention from their worries and towards things that are positive. Ask your child what they are excited about on the first day of school.. most kids can come up with something, even if it’s going home at the end of the day. Chances are, they realize their will be fun times, but they may be overshadowed by the repetitive worries.
Pay attention to your own behavior
It can be anxiety-provoking for parents to turn their child over to their teachers. Children pick up on their parents anxiety, so the more confident you appear, the more confident your child will become. Be supportive, yet firm. When saying goodbye, say it cheerfully and only once. Don’t make good-bye a long, drawn out process. Quick and easy with confidence is always best. Lastly, be sure not to reward your child’s protests by letting them stay home. Instead, say, “I can see why going back to school makes you feel nervous and scared, but you still have to go. Tell me what you’re worried about… we can talk about it”.
Chances are, a little role-playing or problem-solving is all that it will take to make them feel better.