Some kids can’t wait to get back to school, some drag their feet but enjoy it and others suffer anxiety at the thought of anything new, especially back to school.
My master 8 was one such child. Those who know him are confused and shocked by this, but that’s what used to happen. Still does to a much lesser degree the older he gets. The past three years it’s been the start of any school year, footy season or ongoing event with his anxiety manifesting as acting out and and saying he hated whatever the event was!!!
So what did we do and what can you do?
1. It’s important to understand what your child is really saying. For Dan him saying “I hate footy I don’t want to play” (Despite being obsessed with it) for the days before season was him saying I’m scared of the unknown, I’m worried about *insert any number of things*. Before school started what he was really saying was “I’m worried about no knowing what to expect” etc. Once you know what their real fear is you can address it one issue at a time. If you can’t read them and aren’t sure, ask them in a non-confronting way.
2. Know what works with YOUR child. For Dan he doesn’t like talking about the issues so I made sure not to talk directly to him about whatever the upcoming event was, HOWEVER, his older sisters and I would make sure he could hear us when we were ‘talking’ about THEM going back to school (or soccer or Scouts or gymnastics) and how excited they were, we’d use key words that work with Dan such as ‘grown up’ ‘independent’ ‘big kids’ ‘other people feeling exactly the same’ etc. If your child is an avoider then avoid until the last minute, if your child does better with talking things through for days do that. What works for each child will be different. Find THEIR thing and meet them on their level, always with confidence. Often children will pick up on your anxieties and fears.
3. We started the back to school routine a week before they go back. They start going to bed at school night hours. They start making their lunches. They start discussing what they’ll make for school lunches etc. A few days before they wash their uniforms and we go shopping for what they want to make themselvs for lunches.
4. If possible have your child meet their new teacher before the school holidays and find out who is in there class they already know. For older kids talk to them about their entire grade being in exactly the same situation, feeling the same as they are.
5. Teens with anxiety can often be a symptom of something more serious such as nutrient deficiency like magnesium (google magnesium deficiencies, anxiety is one of the top symptoms). It can also be related to bullying, issues with friendships, fearing workload, feeling overwhelmed or ‘dumb’ or stressed about workload. The list is endless! This is where keeping communication lines open from a young age come in to their own. If you can’t get them to open up to you Headspace offers great counselling and you can also get them a mental health plan through your GP to talk to someone on a professional level. Whatever you do, don’t ignore their concerns.
Do you have any other tips you use that work?