Back To School Anxiety

How to help kids manage worries and have a successful start to the school year

Dr Busman, a child psychologist, explains that although the start of the new school year is exciting for most kids, it also prompts a spike in anxiety. Even children who are usually pretty easy-going get butterflies and those prone to anxiety get clingier and more nervous than usual. Parents feel the pain too. Leaving a crying child at preschool isn’t anyone’s idea of fun.

Children are very resilient but the past two school years have been very disruptive for them so any child could feel anxious and unsure about going back after the holidays. For most children the new-school-year worries will fade and the anxious behaviours will be transient. The goal for parents is to be supportive without exacerbating your child’s worries. The start of the year can also be anxiety inducing for parents. The pressure’s on for you to reinstate routines after the summer break and arrange for new activities and schedules, not to speak of facing the resumption of homework.

Dr Busman recommends taking your own temperature, to make sure you’re not passing on stress to your kids. And to enable you to manage your own stress, she says: “It’s important not to take on more commitments than the family can handle comfortably.”

When your child expresses anxiety about going back to school – a new teacher, increases in homework, making a team, a friend crisis – do listen seriously. Rather than dismissing these fears (‘Nothing to be worried about!’ ‘You’ll be fine!’) listening to them and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help them feel more secure. And if they want to, you can bolster their confidence by helping them strategise about how to handle things they are concerned about.

But keep in mind that kids often want to be able to talk about something they’re upset about without expecting you to fix them. Your job is to validate their feelings (‘I know that it’s hard’) and demonstrate confidence that they can handle the situation.

Check in with your child in a more casual way. “It doesn’t have to be a half-hour discussion,” says Dr Busman, “but in the car on the way to get a new backpack, you might ask: Do you know what you’re going to be learning in maths this year? Children often say more when there is less pressure to have a talk.”

Schools are back and in the most its business as usual which means that they are all hosting open days. Please contact your local schools or check on their websites to find out when their open events will be.



Tedd Walmsley

Be the first to know

To get exclusive news, be the first to know about our special offers and competitions, sign up to Live Magazines for FREE.

Tedd Walmsley managing director of Live Magazines shares his views on the latest topics in media.

Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn to join the conversation