The new school year is officially in full swing but getting back into the groove might prove a bit difficult for your little one.
If you have a child who’s anxious about school, there are things you can do to prepare them emotionally.
Common worries include fear of the unknown, pressure to perform academically, worrying about making friends, new teachers and “scary” new subjects.
Take note of their warning signs
Their anxiety might be due to something serious, such as bullying or very low self-esteem. In these cases, it’s best to consult a professional.
“Listen to their fears and concerns,” Bartlett says. “Don’t tell them they shouldn’t feel that way – simply ensure they feel heard and reassure them. For example, you can say, ‘I understand you’re worried that maths is going to hard this year. It’s normal to feel that way at the start of a new year’.”
Try to exude positivity
You may be so worried about your child that you feel overwhelmed yourself. Or maybe you didn’t enjoy your time at school either and your child is aware of this.
“A parent’s attitude often rubs off on their child, so help them by identifying fun and happy things associated with school,” Fischer says. “Try to create an atmosphere of positive excitement at home.”
Have one-on-one time
Spend quality time with your child in the days leading up to school starting, Bartlett advises. Your child is more likely to open up about their feelings if they’re relaxed. “Listen with empathy,” she says. “Ask your child what you could do to help them feel better. Sometimes sharing some of your own school memories can go a long way in reassuring them.”
Equip them with tools
Teach your child a few simple techniques that can help when they’re feeling overwhelmed, such as thinking about a favourite place or thing, practicing deep breathing, or squeezing a stress ball or putty.
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