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Helping Your Child with Back to School Worries and Anxiety

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

The summer holidays will soon be coming to an end, and parents up and down the country will be planning for the children being back to school. The thing is, there is more to prepare for than just making sure the uniform and school shoes fit, especially if you have a child going through a big change, such as starting school for the first time, starting secondary school, or going to a new school altogether.

With these changes in life, there are likely to be some nerves or worries (butterflies in the stomach), which is totally normal. However, there are some things that can show that your child’s anxiety is more than just nerves. The anxiety could be causing your child a lot of stress if:

  • Big tantrums (more than you’ve known before) when a child is separated from you and has to go into the care of teachers

  • Avoiding doing activities outside of school, as well as in school

  • Anxiety symptoms such as difficulty sleeping or continuous stomach aches

  • Finding it hard to build relationships with peers, as well as family members

These combined can make it hard for your child, as well as for parents. So here are some things that you can do to help ease the anxiety if your child experiences this before school starts, or when the school term has started.

Tips to Ease Back to School Anxiety

  1. Preparation can be key. Before school starts, a week or so before, get your child ready for what will be happening. This should include getting into a regular bedtime routine which might have been more flexible in the school holidays, as well as having clothes out ready for the next day, much like there would be when children are back at school.

  2. If they already have some friends at the school, arrange some playdates with their close friends before school starts. The summer holidays can fly by for parents, but for children, it can drag and seem like such a massive thing. If they realise things haven't changed with their friends then it can make a big difference.

  3. Practise the walk to school (or drive to school) and talk about what drop off will look like. Keep it really upbeat and positive!

  4. Depending on the age of your child, you could think about creating a reward-style chart for when they go into school easily.

  5. Talk through the process. Validate their feelings and be a listening ear to their worries and thoughts around this time of year. Make sure they know that some feelings or worries can be normal but let you know if they feel overwhelmed or extremely worried or anxious.

When to Consider Consulting a Counsellor for Your Child’s Back to School Anxiety

If you find that after several weeks, a month or so, that there is this continued distress that seems to be getting worse, then it could be the time to consult with a counsellor. This just means that a mental health professional will be able to help both children and parents to understand what is going on, and then work together to be able to look at the symptoms and help to resolve them.

Anxiety could be dealt with by cognitive behavioural therapy, commonly known as CBT. This method will teach children and their parents how to deal with their anxiety and how to address it. There can be other solutions, from lifestyle changes, as well as medication in some cases (which would be passed to the child’s GP).

The Wellbeing Therapy Hut

The Wellbeing Therapy Hut works with children from age 5, so if you feel like your child needs to see one of our team, please get in touch with us today. We can see children online and in person, and with the sessions being client-led, it should be a comfortable environment for your child.

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