If you’re a parent or a carer of a child with back-to-school anxiety, you are not alone! Here are three things that help children cope better with school transition. This back to school anxiety advice is from a credible source, Olivia Mackay from Olivia Mackay Therapy. Olivia is a therapist who works with children and families, but she has also been a teacher, Principal and is a mum too. So she recommends these 3 Simple Ideas to Ease the Transition To Back to School:
1. Managing Your Own Anxiety as a Parent
I cannot stress this point enough! When kids are anxious, they need you to hold them steady. If you are able to see their feelings of worry about back to school anxiety, then acknowledge and contain these. You are sending them the subconscious message that they are safe and everything will be alright. Sounds easy, right?! OK, so it isn’t easy, but it helps to try and think of this as not something to get through, but a critical learning opportunity: Kids learn to self-regulate through co-regulation. You got this!
2. Use a Transitional Object
A transitional object is any item used to soothe during a transitional phase in back to school anxiety. They can offer a lot of reassurance to a child facing separation anxiety or uncertain circumstances. The classic example is a soft toy or blanky used to comfort a young child who is learning to separate from their primary caregiver. But these objects can be used with older kids too; my mum used to write me a “note” with a reassuring message such as “I am loved and I am safe”, for me to hold onto when scared at night, or starting a new school, or going on a long journey away from her.
Talk to your child and together you can choose or create a special object to keep in their pocket or schoolbag, which they can look at or touch when feeling uncertain. (NB: I recommend not using any object already very precious to the child, as things can get lost easily at school.).
Parents Guide Illawarra – Back to School Anxiety. 3 Things that Help
3. Routine, Routine, Routine
Lastly, try as much as possible to stick to your usual routine. Back-to-school anxiety is often related to the fear of things being different or unexpected – new teacher, new classmates, etc. – so keeping your usual routine is critical. The fewer “new” things introduced, the more familiar and reassuring the experience will be.
What to do with School Refusal?
Of course, for some children with chronic anxiety and school “can’t” (a more accurate way of saying ‘school refusal’), simply using tips won’t be enough. These cases are more complex and require ongoing interventions, such as therapy for the child and the parent/s or carer/s, and working with the school’s Learning Support Team to investigate the possible causes. If your child experiences school “can’t”, feel free to contact me for a discussion to see if I can help. If not, I will refer you to the most appropriate professional. Click to visit Olivia Mackay Therapy or email [email protected] Text or sms 0424 950 740
The Parents Guide Illawarra team would like to thank Olivia Mackay Therapy for sharing her top tips with school anxiety. If you want to learn more about the many ways Olivia supports children and families, please visit Olivia Mackay Therapy.
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