The beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for both parents and students, but how can you make the transition easier for your child?
Praise positive actions and give your child a goal.
When you arrive at school, giving them a goal or a mission to complete for the day like asking their teacher a question they have or saying something nice to a classmate can help them find something to look forward to. At the end of the day, praise them for something they did well that day, like being calm at drop off, saying goodbye to their friends nicely at the end of the day, or saying thank you to the teacher when they leave.
Have an activity or buddy for them when they get to school.
Routines are as helpful for children as they are for adults. If your child gets into the habit of putting things away in their cubby or going to sit next to a friend first thing in the morning, it helps them know what to expect when they arrive at school.
Listen to their feelings.
Let your child know that it’s okay to be nervous when they have a new teacher or move to a new school. Letting them talk about what parts of those experiences make them nervous can make it a smoother transition for both of you.
Check in with yourself.
Take the time to figure out how you’re feeling about your child’s transition. Sometimes parents can pass on feelings to their children without even knowing it. If you are feeling nervous or scared, your child may be picking up on that!
When does it turn into separation anxiety or school anxiety?
If your child is frequently complaining of headaches, stomach aches, or sometimes refuses to go to school, it may be more than normal nervousness. Younger children may have trouble telling the difference between emotions and physical feelings, so anxiety often looks like a headache or stomach ache.
If you start hearing the same reasons a lot, and they are physically healthy, consider that your child may be experiencing school anxiety. You can check in with their teacher to see if anything like teasing or bullying is happening in their class, or anything else that makes your child uncomfortable. If a problem can be identified, it is much easier to work toward a solution with your child, their teacher, and potentially the nurse or guidance counselor.
Making sure they understand the material they are learning can be a big step towards making a child feel comfortable at school. Consider asking your child’s teacher if they seem to be struggling academically, or are often behind or have trouble following directions. You can also check out our article on undiagnosed learning disabilities!
If school anxiety is causing your child to fall behind, we can help get them back on track by helping them keep up with their academics. Schedule an assessment today!1