Feeling anxious is expected and normal during times of change or transition. This is especially true for teenagers and young children going back to school, or first-timers starting kindergarten. The transition from the dog days of summer back to school books, teachers and pencils can be extremely disruptive and stressful for the entire family. Before their first day even begins, your child may cry, complain of headaches, withdraw, become clingy, or even feel nauseous.
The good news is that worries are common. When you have an anxious teenager or child, they will worry about many different school-related issues.
Although worrying is normal, it is incredibly important to ensure that you help to guide your child through it, so they don’t miss out on school. Avoidance only reinforces your child’s fears and makes it far more difficult for them to overcome.
But, what happens when the anxiety continues past those first few days?
How to Ease Your Child’s School Anxiety
Whether it is first day nerves or test anxiety or anxiety about any part of the school day, it’s important to take steps to ease your child’s school anxiety so they may feel comfortable and safe.
Take Care of the Basics
Nobody does well when they are hungry or tired and anxious children often don’t feel hungry, forget to eat or don’t get enough sleep. Make sure to provide your little one with frequent, nutritious snacks and build regular routines for them to follow. This helps to ensure that life is more predictable for your child while they are going through this. We have some suggestions to pack a great lunch for school.
Speak to your children about what is making them worried. Make sure to express that it is normal to be concerned about these things and let them know that you are there to listen and answer any questions they may have. Prior to the first few weeks of school, set up a time that you and your kids can have regular conversations each day. This is a good way to help ease their worries and make them more confident that you are there to help.
If your child has difficulty expressing their fears about school finding a book can help. Our boys have found this one really helps to understand where anxiety comes from –>Hey Warrior
Help them Plan
Kids often seek reassurance that something negative won’t take place. Rather than attempting to reduce their worries by telling them that everything will be alright, encourage your children to think of ways to solve the issue. Talk out scenarios that they seem to think will occur and have an action plan in place for if it does happen. This will give you the chance to teach your child how to cope with situations on their own.
Help your child to redirect their attention away from what is worrying them and towards the positives that come with going back to school. Have your kids write a list of the three things that they are most excited upon their return to their school environment. Most children will be able to think about something positive even if that’s something as simple as seeing their friends or enjoying a themed lunch day each week.
Seek Professional Help
If you’ve taken steps to help your child(ren) manage their anxiety and it has not eased their worries you may need to seek professional help for school anxiety. Whether you seek the help of a family doctor, padeatritian or a counselor, choose one and start working towards coping strategies for school anxiety.
There are many ways to ease your child’s back to school anxieties. Just be sure to take care of the basics, have open lines of communication, help them plan rather than brushing it off and stay positive. In no time, your kids will begin to develop strategies to help manage their school anxiety.
I’ve written about anxiety in another context when someone self-diagnosed improperly.
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