4 ways to build confidence in a child going back to school

4 ways to build confidence in a child going back to school

4 ways to build confidence in a child going back to school

As a parent, it’s natural to feel a little bit anxious about how your child will cope with school. Once you’ve dropped them off in the playground, you’ll have to wait until home-time to hear how their day went… and they might not tell you much when you ask! Even if you don’t know all the details, here are some ways to build up a child’s resilience and boost their confidence for managing the school day.

Build confidence with familiar routines

It’s easier to take on the day when we know what’s likely to happen next, and what’s going to be expected of us. For children that are feeling anxious, this is even more important. It doesn’t have to be timetabled to the exact minute, but following a familiar pattern is really reassuring. Try to keep morning routines and bedtime wind-downs at roughly the same times, with steps in the same order. Having a weekly schedule for regular activities can help too. Of course, there will be surprises and unexpected things crop up, but having a consistent baseline can make those one-off detours easier to cope with.

Build confidence through making choices

Children don’t get to opt-out of going to school, and a lot of their day-to-day routine is already decided for them. Giving small choices can help them feel more in control and boost their confidence. It doesn’t have to end up as a ‘yes day’ of chaos where the kids call all the shots: maybe just give a choice of two options (that are also both doable for you!)

At the start of the year, this could be something like choosing new school stationery or a book bag, but you can still try it out beyond September – offer choices for which route you take to school, what you listen in the car on the way, or just whether to have spaghetti or pizza for dinner. Even having the power to decide little things can feel really good!

Try planning ahead together: if they take a packed lunch to school, maybe your child could make the meal plan for the week. Being involved in decision-making helps with feeling prepared and able to tackle what’s ahead.

Find activities to reduce anxiety

Whether it’s creating things, doing intense bursts of activity, or spending time outdoors, we all find different ways to work through anxiety and stress. Of course, the school day may already feel super full with getting everyone from A to B, fed and on time, but look out for little spaces where your child can decompress. Activities that help us feel connected with friends and family, or get our bodies physically moving (or both) tend to be beneficial for helping us de-stress.

If you’re short on time, even a minute or two of calming breathing exercises and a hug can be well worth the pause.

Find the things you love

Fitting in at school is often a source of anxiety, especially for older children. Learning how to get along with people that don’t necessarily share the same interests is actually a good skill to learn! But it might mean a child feels pressure to change how they act, or hide some of their true interests. If school isn’t really a space where they feel secure or authentic, then perhaps another group or club can provide that feeling of belonging. Or it might be having time together as a family, or a particular interest that they love collecting or researching.

Knowing what makes each of us uniquely gifted and what we bring to the world is so important for our confidence. We’re not going to connect with everybody all the time, but having somewhere where we do belong can help us manage the places where we don’t.

For more on back-to-school anxiety, check out our tips here.

Thanks for reading! Please share this post, you never know who might need it. 

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