How to Help Children with Back-to-School Anxiety
Even kids that are usually confident can feel some back-to-school anxiety at the start of the new year, and many of us adults can still remember those uneasy feelings. On top of the normal nerves, kids have had to cope with unpredictable school stuff for quite a long time now, from home-schooling to pupil bubbles to learning new systems.
Most of the concerns will ease off naturally as they settle back in, but there will be a lot of children feeling extra anxious as the summer holidays end. So how can we be supportive and reassuring without stirring up their stress? Here are some ideas for a smoother start to the Autumn term.
Listen to their worries
It can be easy to dismiss nerves with “don’t worry, you’ll be fine when you get there” (especially if you know they probably will be fine when they get there!) But taking time to listen and acknowledge feelings is reassuring, and lets them know that nothing is too small or too silly to share with you. Not all problems need solutions – just saying “I know that’s hard” can help your child feel heard and understood.
Get specific and problem solve
OK, so we just said that not all problems need fixing, but if your child does want help with handling something specific, make a strategy together. Identify the problem – we may think they’re vaguely anxious about everything, or assume they’re worried about best friends when they’re actually stressed about maths. Finding out what the specific concerns are means you can think of practical steps to help, rather than general reassurances.
Keep an eye on your own anxiety
The start of the year can be an emotional time for parents too, wanting your child to be happy, settled and successful at school. AND you have to get everyone back into routine, co-ordinating drop offs, after-school activities, and homework. Don’t forget to check in on your own emotional temperature, and build in some self-care strategies to keep yourself stable.
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