Anxious feelings are normal and expected for children returning to, or starting school. We can help our kids manage their worries and stress with a few tips.
- Take Care of the Basics – Ensure your child is getting enough sleep, eating regular meals, has daily exercise, and practices healthy coping skills.
- Provide Empathy – Listen to your child. Allow them to share their fears and worries with you. This can help lessen their fears and reduce their worries.
- Problem Solve – Once you have listened to your child and know what’s bothering them, you can start to develop a coping plan. For example, you can tell your child “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation”. Anxious children are often unable to problem solve and may doubt their ability to cope. Addressing fears head on and creating an active plan with concrete solutions can significantly reduce worries and anxieties.
- Focus on the Positive Aspects – Once you have an understanding of what your child is afraid of, and you have a coping plan to address these fears, you can encourage your child to re-direct attention away from their worries and direct them towards the positive things in their life. For example, you can ask your child “Tell me 1 thing you liked about school today”.
- Pay Attention to your own Behavior – It is completely normal for parents to experience their own feelings of worry and anxiety. Children take cues from their parents, so the more confidence you can model, the more your child will believe they can handle any challenge. Be supportive, yet firm. When saying good-bye, say it cheerfully, and only once. If they display any protests, you can say in a calm voice ” I can see that going to school is making you feel scared, it’s ok to be scared, you still have to go to school. Tell me what you are worried about, so we can talk about it”.