School has started and the kids are back to a routine.
For many children and parents, getting back to school is a great time of the year, but this transition can be stressful and disruptive for some families for quite a while. Anxious feelings are normal and expected when kids are going back to school. This is especially true for children in general and for first-timers starting junior infants.
Worries are Common. Anxious children and teens worry about many different school-related issues, such as teachers, friends, fitting in, and/or being away from their parents. Some common worries include:
- Will I like my new teacher?
- What if my new teacher is mean?
- Will any of my friends be in my class?
- Will I fit in?
- Who will I play with and sit with at lunch?
- What if I miss the bus?
- What if I can’t understand the new schoolwork?
Although it is normal for your child to have worries, it is crucial to make your child attend school. Avoidance of school will only increase and reinforce children’s fears long-term, making it increasingly more difficult to attend and making them miss on valuable opportunities to develop and practice social skills, important chances for success and mastery, being acknowledged and praised for talents and fostering close friendships with classmates.
How to support children getting back to school
Make sure they eat well
We can’t cope well when we are tired or hungry. Children are the same, but they can have even stronger reactions to hunger than we do. Anxious children often forget to eat or don’t feel hungry. Provide frequent and nutritious snacks for your child during this time, and make sure to use every opportunity you have to get some food in their tummies.
Make sure they sleep and rest
It is important to build regular routines once school is back, so that life is more predictable for your child. Routines are also important to give your child the time to rest and sleep well. Overtired and anxious children can have a hard time relaxing and sleeping through the night, so make sure they have some time to rest their little minds from their daily worries before they go to bed.
Encourage your child to share his or her fears
Ask your child what is making him or her worried. Tell your child that it is normal to have concerns. During the first few weeks of school, set up a regular time and place to talk. Some children feel most comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention, such as right before bed, or during meal times.
Choose the right after school care
For working parents, the daily routine doesn’t end once the kids are finished in school. They still have another few hours of work to do before getting home for the little ones. After school care and activities are very important for full time working parents. Choosing the right after school care for your child can make a huge difference in his/her life, promoting a more relaxed daily routine for children and for the whole family.
Encourage your child to re-direct attention away from the worries, and towards the positives. Get your child to think about all the good things involved in his/her daily routine, including what is good about school. This can be about a nice snack they like, a nice friend, the bus journey, the quiet time at home after school, the dog around the corner, etc.