For some children returning to school is an exciting event, but sadly this isn’t the case for every child. Lots of children experience a spike in anxiety when it is time to return to school, and this can make them feel upset, clingy and frustrated. It can even cause health problems such as stomach aches and headaches, which can actually prevent them from attending the first day back!
And it isn’t only the kids who feel the pain; many parents also feel stressed if their child is worried about returning to school. Thankfully there are lots of ways to sooth a child’s worry about returning to school.
So don’t worry about tears at the school gates; instead use these five handy tips to help your kids with back to school anxiety.
1. Listen To Their Worries
If your child is anxious about returning to school try to take their worries seriously. It can be tempting to be dismiss their concerns by saying something like “there isn’t anything to be worried about!”, but this can make your child feel misunderstood and even more upset. So sit down with them, have a chat and really listen to them.
It can also be useful to ask questions to get to the crux of the issue; is it other children, a teacher or the workload? Just make sure to ask general questions, like “what are you worried about?”, rather than trying to guess (for instance, asking “is it maths that is making you nervous?”). This is because some children struggle to articulate themselves, so if you give them a ready-made answer they may
2. Focus On Problem Solving (Rather Than Reassurance)
Once you hear your child’s worries you may want to reassure them – and there is nothing wrong with this! However you should really focus on trying to solve any problems, as this means your child will be less likely to experience the same anxiety in the future. If they are worried about one of their classes you could offer to help them more with their homework, or if a child is bullying them you could contact their parents to resolve the issue. This will help your child to cope with the situation, and it will also show them that you are on their side and taking their problems seriously.
3. Tell Someone At School
If your child is still very anxious they may need some extra support while they are at school. This could be their teacher, the head teacher or the school nurse; just so long as there is another adult who understands the problem and how your child feels. This means they are more likely to keep an eye on your child, and if they notice any issues they will approach them and try to help.
4. Cover The Basics
No-one feels good if they are hungry or sleepy, so make sure that your child is well-rested and well fed for their first day. Make a tasty, nutritious breakfast that you know they will love, and encourage them to have a warm, relaxing bath the night before to help them sleep.
5. Reward Them Afterwards
Finally it can be useful to reward your child at the end of their first day. Maybe you could take them to do something that they enjoyed doing over the Christmas holidays, or maybe you could cook their favourite meal (or buy them a Happy Meal!). Studies have found that reward systems are very effective for children, so this is a great way to encourage them to brave the first day back.