Coping with back to school anxiety for parents
Moms and Dads school this year is just going to be different. We’ re all going to be reaching differently to school this year and that’s OK. For many families heading back to school will be a relief as we try to get back into what is our usual routine.
Your child in Primary School
If you have a young child who is in primary school and who seems anxious about going back to school, talk to them as frequently about going back to school. Ask them how they feel about going back to school. Explore their worries without encouraging their fears. When talking with your child or teen ask open ended questions. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings without asking leading questions that may encourage them to be afraid. Ask questions like “How are you feeling about going back to school? Or “How are you feeling about seeing your friends again?”
You want to make sure you are not reinforcing your child’s fears through your own body language or words. You do not want your child to get unintended worry messages from you. Yes, you may be worried about how many people your child is going to see each day but have those conversations away from your child as they will pick up on your nervousness and anxiety.
Help your child connect with their school friends
Help your younger child and encourage your older children to connect with their school friends before school starts. As parents we need to help our primary school age children connect with their friends outside of school. Some children may be good doing this on their own, while other children need our help to stay connected. If your child seems anxious about connect with their school friends because they are not sure what to talk about, help them to think about what they have in common with their friends. Whatever they have in common, encourage them to do something (an activity) together whether it’s in person or online so they get used to hanging out together.
Do call school and see if you can find out who will be in your child’s class this year. Prepare your child that this may change as the schools are still trying to solve these issues themselves. Explore how your child may feel if their best friend is not in their class this year or is being home schooled and talk about how they are going to manage this concern.
Was your child school anxious before?
There are some children and teens who will feel very anxious when school starts again. These tend to be the children and teens who experienced signs of anxiety prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Being able to stay home helped them avoid social situations which made them anxious.
For these children and teens, it’s important to start reintroducing the back to school routine to them now.
- Make a point to go to their school and walk around the building
- Drive them past school when you are out on an essential trip
- Consider contacting the school and asking for face-to-face contact with various teachers via an online video
- Ask the school if you could possibly take your child to the school, to walk around, pick up a text book or wave at a teacher from a distance, whilst sticking to social distancing guidelines
- Start preparing your child and teen mentally about going back to school
- Start the conversation on how they will handle social distancing
- Get them to talk about returning to school now
This exposure to school and school conversations will give you a good idea of how high your child’s anxiety is going to be when they go back to school. If these little bits of exposure cause anxiety, it’s likely that there’s going to be higher levels on their first day back. Now is the time to set up an appointment with a child or youth therapist who can help you and your child learn how to manage their anxiety. Call Family-Therapy are learn more about how a therapist can help your child conquer their anxiety.
We’re here to listen.