Back to School Anxieties: How Do We Address Them?
We blinked, and the first three weeks of school flew by.
Going back to school can be such a stressful time not only for our children, but also for us as parents. The new school year can bring with it daunting changes as compared with the year before. These changes can range from something like joining a new school, new teachers, new classmates or a completely new workload.
Anxiety can also hit in a variety of ways, and it manifests differently in every child as well, making it easier to spot in some, and harder to pick out in others. And just because it is not easy to spot, does not mean that it isn’t there.
Pick the right moment
However your child feels and whatever he or she chooses to share with you, talking to them is the first and most important step you can take. When to do so, though, will prove crucial in getting him or her to open up and share. Therefore, find a time when things are relatively calm, and your child is open and receptive to your love and concern. Try not to pick a time that is usually high-stress, like when your child is getting ready to go to school, or when he or she is upset.
Ask the right questions
There are questions and then there are questions. Choosing the right ones will lead you to answers that prompt a response and then, to the appropriate action. Some suggestions include:
“What are three things that have excited you most about school so far?” – which can then be followed up with: “What three things are you most anxious about at school so far?”
Try to figure out if there is anything in particular that has been worrying your child or if there is anything that he or she is anxious about. Are they worried about keeping up? Or is it because they have just come from the PSLE and are now battle-worn? Could the prospect of getting along with teachers and friends be overwhelming in some way? Sometimes, fears from a previous school can be carried along with them to a new school, similarly with fears from a previous year spilling over to the next one.
Asking the right questions can help you to navigate what may be murky waters where your child is concerned, and guide you to taking the right steps and making the right decisions whether or not to step in and help, or if it is just to lend a sympathetic and listening ear.
Friends or siblings
One other avenue you can choose to explore would be to encourage your child to talk to their friends or siblings. It may be easier for your child to open up and relate worries to someone of the same age instead, and the takeaway here is for them to share. Sharing, be it with you, or with someone else, is naturally cathartic, and may help ease any burdens that your child may be carrying with them.
Talking to people of the same age may also help them feel excited about going back to school. And it may be assuring to know that whatever it is they are anxious about, it is normal, and that there may be others who are going through a similar situation as well.
Project a sense of confidence and understanding
Our children take their cue from us, so it would help if we project confidence and understanding. Show them that we know and empathise, because sometimes all it takes is for children to know that you know what they’re going through for it to make a big difference.
Oftentimes, anxieties can be minimised simply by making sure your child gets enough rest as well as a balanced diet. Other times, things might not be as easy, and will require a lot more time and effort to make a difference. We all want to raise healthy and well-adjusted children, and sometimes simply choosing the right educational programme for your child is enough to see excitement come back with regards to learning, and anxiety melt away from their eyes.