Back to School Transitions
A new school year has arrived, along with anxiety for most kids. School anxiety is real and can look different for each child. Some children can adjust after a few weeks of school, while others may experience continued, excessive fears. Sometimes anxiety will disguise itself as an upset stomach, deviance/acting out behaviors, and ADHD or the inability to concentrate on classwork. Each child is different, and the cause of school anxiety can vary. Some of these causes may be staying home all summer and struggling with transitions, history of being bullied at school, making new friends, fears of taking tests, separation from parents, and of course the fear of the unknown.
Parents and teachers may find it challenging to manage avoidant behaviors. If behaviors continue or become extreme, collaboration is crucial and should occur with the child, parents/guardians, teachers, and counselors to establish a plan. Below are tips for parents to help with the transition back to school.
· Get Back to a Routine- Create a structured routine that includes self-care time after school, screen time limits, getting school bags and cloths ready the night before, and calming strategies before bed. Some kids do better with visual aids or checklists to know what is expected and to promote independence.
· Listen- Be present and listen to your child’s concerns with empathy. Sometimes just talking about fears and feeling heard can decrease anxious feelings. Remember you do not have to fix it.
· Practice solving problems- instead of reassurance that bad things will not happen, encourage your child to think of ways to solve their problems in certain situations. Role playing can help children feel more confident. Have your child play the part of a bully or a difficult social interaction, then model the appropriate responses.
· Acknowledge and Encourage – Recognize how difficult it is to overcome fears and praise children for their strengths and courage to do so. A reward system may be helpful in reinforcing attendance and good behavior.
Keep communication open with your child throughout the school year to adjust supports at home and at school as needed. Remember, you are not alone! Use the resources you have available such as therapists, pediatricians, school counselors, and school administrators.
By: Camille Davis