Kids are slowly heading back to school and it isn’t uncommon for your child to experience some back to school anxiety. Anxiety can be frightening for children but they don’t always understand the signals that their body is trying to tell them. For a child experiencing back to school anxiety, you may notice that your child starts acting clingy when they normally aren’t that way, complain about a headache or stomach ache, withdraw, attempt to bargains with you, unexpected outbursts, or act cranky.
Whether your student is a new student, a returning student, or starting a new school, having unknown fears is normal. But when your child doesn’t want to go to school, it can be a heartbreaking experience for both you and your child. If you notice that your child is experiencing back to school anxiety, as a parent, you should openly communicate with your child so that you can get to the root of the problem and help your child overcome their fears.
Never allow your child to skip school. Skipping school will increase their back to school anxiety, fears, and feed their behavior. Instead, you want to encourage them to overcome it and determine if their fear is really a problem that needs to be addressed such as bullying, not having any friends, or being assigned a teacher that they don’t like. Pushing them to face their fears gives the opportunity to develop and improve their social skills, learn how to take chances of becoming successful, make new friends with their classmates, and continue learning skills that will help them in the future.
Let’s look at some way to help overcome back to school anxiety for kids.
Back to school anxiety is real and a legitimate concern for kids. Always actively listen to your child and get them to talk about their fears. Do let them finish what they have to say before you respond so that you can fully understand their fear and their point of view. Then repeat what they said to you so that you can ensure that you understood them correctly before responding.
Parents, sometimes it is difficult to hear what your child has to say. But it is important that you actively hear them out and not respond defensively or in anger. Encourage them to express their feelings and show them empathy towards the situation. Talking about their emotions helps them become emotionally healthy adults. If your child doesn’t want to verbally express his or her emotions, you can have them write it down or even draw a picture so that you can help them.
If they are having a difficult time communicating their fears, you may need to get your child professional help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness and teaching your child that it is okay to ask for help is highly beneficial for your child. There is such a stigma around going to see a therapist to discuss your problems whether they are simple or complex or due to mental illness.
Help Your Child Develop a Solution
A child suffering from back to school anxiety can overcome their fears and expectations. Instead, of giving your child a solution to their problem, turn this into a learning experience for your child. Now is a great time to ask them any additional questions about their fears with going back to school.
Most kids when they encounter a problem, they will shut down and won’t attempt to figure out how to solve it. To help them develop a solution, have them brainstorm possible solutions. At this point, even if a solution isn’t reasonable, you want them to include it anyhow. It is okay to assist your child in brainstorming ideas if they are struggling.
Your child should come up with at least 5 or more solutions that could potentially work. Then have them list the pros and cons of each solution. After, they list the pros and cons, have them choose a solution and test it. You want to get them into the habit of coming up with solutions to problems before they come to you for help.
Encourage Your Child to Overcome Their Back to School Anxiety
When my son started a new school this year, he had a bit of back to school anxiety due to moving over the summer. He was worried about making new friends and missing his old ones. But when he came home from school yesterday, he said he already made new friends. In this case, I didn’t have him come up with a solution but I did encourage him. I told him that he wouldn’t have a problem making new friends.
Teach Your Child to Look for the Positive In Every Situation
Naturally, most people often focus on negative situation when it comes to facing their fears. But adjusting your mentality can go a long way. Now is a great time to teach your child to focus on a positive situation. Change is hard but it doesn’t have to affect your children negatively. As adults, we know that life is full of changes, some positive and some negative. But as an adult, I know that is is better to focus on finding the positive in light of the negative circumstances.
Do have your child look for some positive reasons to go back to school. Even if your child comes up with something silly like going to lunch, returning home at the end of the day, or seeing a friend they already know. When we went to meet his teachers, I also made sure that I showed him where the cafeteria, gym, library, and office was at so that he was familiar with his new school.
Perform a Self-Examination
Do you struggle with letting your child go or turn your child over to another caregiver, including your child’s teacher? Your own anxiety about letting your child go and grow up could be causing your child’s back to school anxiety. Even if you do experience anxiety about handing your child off to a teacher, it is best to try to remain as calm as possible so that your child doesn’t pick up on it.
Keep in mind, your children are watching your every move. As a mom, I’ve had to learn when it is time to let go and allow my child his or her own opportunity to grow. Now is the time to let them make choices, even those bad ones that you dread so that you can help them learn from it. Mistakes are going to happen and wouldn’t you rather it happen while you are around. I would so that I am there to help them. That doesn’t mean I excuse their behavior or not follow through with any consequences of their choices.
Pick a Routine and Stick With It
Kids thrive on routine and when it comes time to transition from summer to their school schedule, you may be met with resistance at first. The best way to get them ready for the switch is to begin shifting your child’s schedule several weeks in advance. Your child needs ample amounts of sleep to avoid sleep deprivation and in order to be successful at school.
With school bells ringing and kids returning to the classroom, parents don’t panic if your child experiences some back to school anxiety. It is normal to be nervous but you don’t want their back to school anxiety hindering their education.