Helping your nervous child go back to school in ease!
It's school holidays here and I hope everyone is enjoying all the family time!! For some kiddos the transition back to school can be challenging and may even bring some tears and other emotions.
If that sounds like your little one, then hang in there! I'm going to be sharing some useful tips for preparing kiddos for going back to school with ease.
Some children rock up to school like it's no biggie! While others may experience overwhelm and even anxiety over it. If your child gets anxious the night before or the morning of, you will want to check out these key points in supporting them through the transition.
First of all...
This is completely normal. Think about how you might feel going back to work after a holiday!! For most of us, it doesn’t feel very nice. A lot of children feel stress during transitional periods and it’s okay to cry.
Our emotions impact their emotions. Take a deep breathe in and smile encouragingly at your little one. Their brains are having a hard time coping and when we become frustrated or annoyed by their crying or resistance it can amplify the situation quickly.
“I can see you are upset. I know this is hard.” And that’s it. No promises of getting out of going! Simply validating. Sometimes we get caught up in the rush of the morning and become overwhelmed ourselves “Well, you have to go to school!” This can fan the flame. Instead, let’s simply validate their feelings.
Going to school really is not a choice. They’re going to go, but we can make this as gentle for them as possible by following through once we have validated them. “I know this is hard, how about we chat more about it once I pick you up this afternoon?”
Return to the Source
Once your little one is calm bring up what happened. “I could see you were upset this morning before school. Would you like to talk about it?” Sometimes children do not feel safe during transitions (like going back to school after a holiday!) and simply need to feel understood. While other times there may be a deeper cause to their stress. Maybe they feel rejected by some of the children, maybe the teacher hasn’t quite bonded with them yet or maybe the school work is too hard. It’s always a good step to allow your child the opportunity to express what they need.
Getting the School On Board
If your youngster is having a hard time going back to school or just going to school in general, this could be a great time to get the teacher on board. When children feel safe their emotions will settle. Feeling safe comes from feeling connected to other people. I encourage my families to build relationships with school staff, so your children will too.
Ask your child’s teacher to set aside just a few minutes at the start of the day to welcome your child and bond with them. “Tommy is having a rough time in the morning on the way to school. Do you think you could chat with him a bit this morning, so he feels safe?”
Validate, listen and support. Those are the key ingredients to your child's success in going back to school, and coping with any transition for that matter. How do you help your child prepare for going back to school?
Is your little one nervous about preschool or kindergarten? Check out our other evidence based articles where I share more tips on preparing kids for big school!
About the author Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour.
Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.
Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support.
Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker
Articles you may enjoy!