Helping Your Child With Back-To-School Anxiety
Back to school is an exciting time. Many kids look forward to school, catching up with their friends, and the opportunity to do new fun things with their classes. However, back to school time can also be difficult for some kids. For some children, back-to-school season can trigger anxiety and a fear of the unknown.
How To Deal With Back-to-School Anxiety
First of all, it’s important to note that back to school anxiety may be perfectly normal. Just like get excited or anxious when we have new things or big events coming up, so do kids. As a parent, it can be hard to see your kids going through a difficult time, and there are a few things you can do to help them with the transition. This includes keeping yourself open to them for any questions or concerns they might have, and sharing any information you have that will help them mentally prepare to start the new school year.
As the date approaches, their anxiety might increase, so there are a variety of other things you can do to help them prepare.
A Week Before School Starts
Before school starts you can help your child transition by taking little trips to the school playground to get used to the surroundings. Although they may know the school well, doing this small thing might help them acclimate in a very low pressure way. You can also help them by discussing what their schedule might look like. Use visuals if this will be helpful for your child’s learning style.
A Day Day Before School Starts
The day before back to school might be a good time to talk about how they are feeling, and open up a line of communication about what their first day might entail. This is also probably a good time to help them reflect on some other nerve-wracking “firsts”, and how they were able to get through them successfully. Above all else, make sure that their feelings are validated and recognized. Another thing you can do to help ease their mind, is to talk about positive experiences they’ve had in previous years. You can also share some of your memories of school and first days.
The Day Of Back-To-School
On the day of back to school, you might want to send them with some sort of trinket or comfort object they can wear or put in their pockets to help them feel grounded. You could even send them a reassuring note or drawing. Hopefully, all the discussions that you’ve been having will have prepared them for their first day, so that even if they have the jitters, it won’t be too traumatizing. Ask them to take note of some of the good things that happen throughout the day, in order to report back to you later. This might help them make efforts to keep their minds open to positive things instead of simply worrying. Make sure to let them know that you are able to talk and “debrief” after the day is done.
When To See A Doctor
According to the Cleveland Clinic , the severity of the child’s anxiety is what determines whether it is a normal reaction, or if it is a bigger problem that may require the help of a professional. They state that if the child is in significant distress that is not easing, and it is causing real problems in their life or functioning, then it may be something you should see a doctor about. Furthermore, they note that these issues of severe anxiety may manifest themselves in physical symptoms that can affect the child’s health or well-being.
Ultimately, going back to school is one of those scenarios that may commonly trigger anxiety in kids, or just a simple fear of the unknown.
By talking with them, and providing as much info as possible, as well as listening to their concerns, you may be able to help ease their fears. That being said, if there is a significant issue with anxiety that is causing undue distress or an interruption in normal functioning, then you may want to consult a professional. Overall, it’s important to remember that new things can be difficult for children, as can processing new and scary emotions.