The ‘back to school’ season can be stressful and anxiety-inducing at the best of times, never mind in the midst of a global pandemic. It is totally normal and expected for both parents and children to feel nervous and a little apprehensive about changes to their daily routine. However, as challenging as it may be, anxiety surrounding ‘back to school’ shouldn’t spoil the experience. Below are our top tips for coping with back to school anxiety.
First things first… Identify the cause of the anxiety
A little anxiety or nervousness here and there isn’t normally cause for concern, especially when it’s surrounding normal life events like starting new term or school. However, persistent and harrowing anxiety or a noticeable change in behaviour in your child could be a sign of anxiety disorder1 or a serious problem at school such as bullying. Speak to your child and consult with your doctor if notice signs of a bigger issue. The same goes for parents too! If you are experiencing an overwhelming amount of anxiety, or your anxiety is beginning to affect your daily life, speak to your doctor.
If there is no sign of any serious issues, speak to your kids about their concerns. What is causing them to be nervous about school? Are they worried about making new friends? Do they have concerns over new schoolwork? Or are they just nervous about the new experience as a whole? Understanding what is causing your child’s anxiety will help you to tackle it.
Chatting with a friend can also be really helpful for parents and guardians to let out some of their own concerns and worries too. Speak to someone you trust about your fears and worries surrounding the back to school period.
Speak to Their Teacher
Keeping an open line of communication with your child’s teacher will help to make school more smooth sailing for both you and your child. Even if you don’t feel as though there’s anything in particular you need to make them aware of, simply introducing yourself will open the line of communication and make it easier to discuss issues further down the road should they arise. The child mind institute shares 7 things teachers wish parents would tell them and some of the subjects may surprise you. Believe it or not, teachers find it very helpful when they are made aware of certain things such as your child’s strengths and weaknesses, special interests and learning style. It’s also a good idea to make the teacher aware of any changes/issues at home such as a death in the family or a divorce.
Make Sure They Are Comfortable in Their Uniform
The jury is still out on whether or not school uniform is completely a good idea, however as it still stands uniform is compulsory for most schools across the UK. And whether or not your child feels comfortable in their uniform can make an impact on how they perform throughout the day. If your little one starting school for the first time, have them try on their uniform weeks before their first day. Build up their confidence by making a big fuss of how ‘cool’ they look in their new clothes. If you like, you could even have them do a fashion show for their friends/relatives. Alternatively, you could take a calmer approach by giving them a couple of uniform options and allowing them to choose what they would like to wear. For example, do they want to wear a pinafore, or a skirt? Do they want to wear a long sleeves shirt or a short sleeved shirt? Allowing them to make small decisions on what they are wearing will help to build on their problem solving skills and helps them feel as though they have some control over the situation2.
As for older children such as those starting secondary school or moving up a year, let them have some say in what they wear too! Pre teens and teenagers are naturally fashion conscious and concerned about what their peers think of their clothing choices. Don’t just go out and buy for them, take them shopping with you and let them choose the fit/style they like the best. Of course, anything they pick will need to be in accordance with their schools specific regulations, so check with your school first to make sure whatever they pick is appropriate, but as long as it doesn’t break any riles and it’s within budget, let them go for it!
Practice Buttons, Zips and Laces with Little Ones
Once they know how to do the tricky parts of getting dressed, getting ready for school and changing for P.E lessons will be much easier. In the weeks leading up to their first day, spend 10 minutes each day on one skill, either practicing how to zip a zip, fasten a button or tie shoelaces. If they manage to get to grips with each skill before the school term starts then great! But if not don’t fret! Make sure they know they can ask their teacher for help when they need it. Make sure to praise them each time they try and do a button or zip themselves to keep them encouraged.
There will be Many Ups and Downs
As with most things in life, school won’t always be a smooth sailing experience. There will be days where your child meets you at the school gates upset about a fall out with a friend or disappointed that they didn’t get picked for a project, that’s just a fact. But, there will also be many more days where they can’t wait to tell you about their amazing day! Ride the waves, be grateful for the good times and accept each day as it comes.
Communication is Key
Problems can be solved much faster and easier with good communication. Ask your child about their day, every day. Keep speaking to their teachers, attend parents evenings whenever you can and discuss your concerns with your partner.
A Positive Outlook is Infectious
Be an example to your child and try to take on every new endeavour with a positive attitude. Try your best to maintain a positive outlook whenever met with a challenging situation. For example: Did they have a bad day at school? That’s ok! We all have bad days but tomorrow we get a brand new start.