Is your child feeling anxious about returning to school this year? Are you feeling the stress and unsure how to get the kids back into shape after the holidays?
Returning to school can raise many of challenges for those managing children and teenagers. Bad habits, loss of school term routine, and in a 6-8 week period, changes in their bodies such as hormone surges can make you feel like you are losing control and have to go back to the old drawing board. With a little planning, you can make returning to school simple and stress free.
Helpful Advice 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.
- Nutrition – holidays can be a time for some unhealthy treats, and snacks the kids wouldn’t normally have day to day. Start to change the kids back to some healthy eating habits.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Anxiety Triggers to be Aware of
Returning to school can be an anxious time for both children and parents. For children, it is important to talk with them to identify triggers that are making them feel anxious about the return:
- 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, to ensure they have a calm and positive start to their school year.
Should you or your child need any assistance with these difficulties, please contact us on 02 8883 3185 so we can help you have a happy and healthy start to the year with your family.
WRITTEN BY REBECCA DEANE (SENIOR CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST) – WWW.CREATINGCHANGE.NET.AU