There are endless reasons that your child (or children) may feel stressed or anxious about returning to school. Whether they are concerned about the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and their increased risk of contracting the virus through a school setting or about bullies or making friends — there is truly no shortage of things that could be causing feelings of unrest during the early fall.
These feelings are normal, and you likely remember feeling something similar on your first day of school back when you were a kid. But, we should not take these feelings lightly, and understanding coping strategies to address these feelings can be beneficial to your child as the school year approaches.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety about returning to school is widespread. But, just because it is common does not mean that, as a parent, you should ignore it. Here are a few signs you can look out for in your kids to better determine if they are struggling with the transition.
Suppose your child is anxious about going to a new school or maybe they are experiencing bullying or isolation in their classrooms. In that case, it is very common for parents to see their child (or children) display an increased desire to stay with them.
You may notice your child appearing more clingy than usual during the back-to-school season, and while this can be very common, it can be a sign of deeper anxiety or fear of going to school.
Changes to Daily Habits
Your child will likely have to change their habits — especially if they are entering a new grade or school that assigns more daily responsibilities. This being said, it is crucial to ensure that the changes are still facilitating healthy habits, like a consistent sleep schedule and consuming healthy and nutritious meals.
When we’re anxious, many of us have a lot of things going through our minds at once. If you pair this with the multiple classes your child takes each day in school, this can get quickly overwhelming.
All these thoughts and ideas at once can make it extremely difficult for a child (or even an adult) to concentrate, which is why difficulty concentrating can be a common sign of anxiety. This can also result in your child appearing restless or fidgety more often.
Frequent Stomachaches or Headaches
These are common symptoms of anxiety and can also often be seen as reasons not to go to school as a child. After all, that is what sick days are for, right? The issue with this can be that these physical symptoms of anxiety can make it incredibly difficult for your child to thrive while in school and can even lead to missing classes.
Your child could be telling you exactly what it is that is worrying them. Sometimes it can be difficult for children to tell us precisely what is troubling them, but if you see your child expressing negative thoughts or worries about going back to school, that is an excellent opportunity to sit down and talk with them about it.
Shorter Tempers or Being More Emotional
Constant anxiety or stress can take a toll on our abilities to regulate our emotions. This is why we can find ourselves blowing up over the “little things” much more frequently when we’re in a stressful time in life.
Children are no different. If they feel stressed, they are likely to exhibit similar behaviors as adults, such as being overly emotional or exhibiting shorter fuses.
Tips for Coping
There are tons of tips and techniques that you can use to help your child cope with back-to-school stress. Here, we’ll look at just a couple of these strategies.
Sometimes all it takes is an ear to talk to and a shoulder to rest on. If your child is expressing their worries, concerns, or feelings about what has been happening with them, listen to them. It can be very scary for kids to do this, and if you give them the time and attention they need to express their feelings, it can work wonders for their stress levels.
Going back to school is incredibly intimidating — especially for kids attending a new school. The surroundings and people present will be unique and different, which can be scary for kids.
They need you to be there for them while they get used to these new surroundings, schedules, and people.
Help Foster Familiarity
It can help to talk to your kids about what it might be like in this next year of their lives. You could tell them about your experience in the grade or school they are going into (if you can remember), or you could try to give them a rundown of what might happen.
This can help take some of the unfamiliarity away and give your kids something they can use to guide them during this time.
Promote Healthy Habits
Encourage healthy living habits — like a consistent sleep schedule, healthy eating, and regular exercise. These can be instrumental in combating stress and anxiety. If you ensure that your kids see these habits in a good light (preferably by leading by example), they can really benefit.
Consult a Professional
Maybe you’ve tried the tips above in a previous year, and they didn’t seem to work out how you wanted them to. Perhaps you simply aren’t sure what the best solutions are or what your kid is feeling. The truth is that sometimes it is tough to know and understand what our kids are going through.
They don’t share everything with us, and while it hurts, it is their choice. In these cases, it can be very helpful to bring in a professional. A therapist or counselor can help you and your child better understand what is causing stress and anxiety and determine the best techniques and strategies for coping with those feelings.
So, if you are not sure how to help your child cope with back-to-school stress for this upcoming year, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow.