Is your child feeling stressed or anxious about returning to school?
Are you unsure how to get the kids back to normal after the holidays?

Why is my child anxious?

Returning to school can raise a range of challenges for many parents – they’re out of routine, have become lazy and now have some little bad habits they’ve developed.
In a 6-8 week holiday period, children also go through changes in their bodies such as hormone surges. This can be unexpected as a parent, and make you feel like you’re losing control and have to go back to the old parenting drawing board. With a little planning, you can make returning to school simple and stress free for your family.

Anxious Child2

5 Simple Tips for Parents –  

  • 1-2 weeks before school returns, look at a calendar. Use it to count down the days so you can plan accordingly, or create a visual schedule to take the pressure off.
  • Start to get the kids back to their normal day to day activities over this period by introducing some of the small steps, e.g. making their bed daily, waking up at the time they would for school, bedtime routine such as brushing their teeth, reducing electronic use and going to bed at a regular time. Doing this in advance before school starts back will assist your transition.
  • Nutrition – holidays can be a time for some unhealthy treats, take-away, and snacks the kids wouldn’t normally have day to day. Start to change the kids back to some healthy eating habits, and you’ll be amazed at how it affects their behaviour.
  • Arrange one or two play dates with friends from school, so the children can re-establish that connection with some other kids before the term starts. They lose that connection with friends, so some children can feel anxious about seeing friends again for the first time – “will they still like me?”. “Have they seen friends in the holidays that I haven’t seen?”
  • Take advantage of your time now, and create a folder for all the school letters and bits and pieces that will come in throughout the term – this will make you as a parent feel organised and ready for the influx.

Out of routine kids can bring on additional stress and increased tiredness for parents. So the more you plan now, the less stressed and more organised you will feel come the start of term. 

As the anxiousness of returning to school can affect both parents and children, it’s important to take some time to have a talk with your child, and identify triggers that are making them feel anxious about the return.

Anxiety triggers may include:

  • Starting Kindergarten or High School for the first time
  • Starting at a new school – concerns about not knowing anyone or having to make new friends
  • Starting their HSC studies – pressure of expectations
  • New environments, teachers, performance expectations, managing new relationships
  • Anxiety related to bullying, or interactions with children they may fear

It is important to address any worrying thoughts your child may have before the start of term, so they can feel reassured and less anxious before their first day back. Your family also may have gone through some changes throughout the holiday period that could bring on anxious feelings for your child, e.g. separating parents, financial difficulties, moving houses or a parent being diagnosed with an illness.

As a parent, you yourself may be struggling through these times, and it is important to reassure your children and give them the support they need. You want to ensure they have a calm and positive start to their school year, and you need to be your best self to be able to do this.

Also published on