Back to School Fears and Anxiety | School Anxiety Carlsbad
Summer vacation is nearing its end and yet children are faced with another “transition” in their life –returning to school...
Transitions are challenging no matter when they occur but if your school aged child is anxious and dreads any change, whether old or new, this experience can trigger crying, defiance, somatic symptoms such as headaches, sore tummies, nausea and vomiting and a list of unwanted behaviors.
We, as adults love routine. It is important to have schedules and be aware of what our day may entail. When a curve ball is thrown our way, we find it challenging to regroup and deal with the change. That is not always easy.
Imagine how change can impact a child’s life especially when they are anxious to begin with or anxious and have Asperger’s, Autism, Learning challenges or ADD(H)D?
What can we do as parents to help ease transition?
Lets start with being a parent. It is wise, when dealing with the anxious and fearsome child to really try to help pave a smooth road to the new school year. Parents often ask: What can I do to help? What do I do if my child refuses to go to school? When my child complains of a headache or tummy ache do I force them to go to school?
These are all legitimate questions that parents have. Alleviating these feelings that are most overwhelming can help decrease fear and anxiety in any new situation.
It is important that a parent recognize behavior changes.
When a child comes to you with questions and statements such as:
What is school going to be like?
Will I manage in my new school?
I am scared to be in such a large environment.
I don’t want to leave you
Will I have friends?
I worry about all the homework
What’s the bus ride going to be like?
Will others like me?
What if lunch is yucky
We as parents are bombarded with questions, feelings, emotions and irrational thoughts and behaviors that race through our child’s mind.
If your child is anxious and fears knew situations, it would behoove you to take the child to visit the school, walk the campus and verbalize the routine of the day. This process can start a week before school in order to help lower the anxiety and stress mounting in a child’s mind.
As adults, we like to have an agenda at work, knowing when we walk through the door, that our calendar is intact and our day’s events written down. We often experience an unexpected meeting, an irate boss, emergencies that need to be dealt with, hence throwing off our day. What do we do? We learn to take a deep breath, follow our day and accept it, though not easy as changes and transitions visit us without warning.
I know it sounds easy but it’s not. Children don’t always have the necessary tools to combat feelings of anxiousness, stress and worrisome thoughts.
If you are aware of your child’s concerns it is important that you meet with the teacher ahead of time ensuring that he/she is aware of your concerns, be in close contact through out the year by working as a “team” with your child’s teacher, counselor, principal and child so everyone is onboard so that the child meets with success at the onset of the school year.
Some tips that can help reduce a child’s stress or anxious behavior going back to school are as follows:
Modeling calm behavior
Help your child cope with stress or anxiety by being patient
Listen to your child’s concerns
Validate his/her feelings. i.e.: ”Going back to school is a scary thought but you did great last year…you’ll do great this year…”
Provide a safe environment that allows a child to express his/her feelings
Don’t tell your child that he or she is “silly” by discounting real thoughts, emotions and feelings
LISTEN ATTENTIVELY, VALIDATE THOUGHTS, BE CALM
Remember, if you as a parent are calm, less stressed and realize that negative thoughts or statements trigger anxiety and fears in your child, be cognizant with words you use, be respectful of your child’s feelings but maintain firm boundaries that will help strengthen your child’s ability to control their worries and fears.
If your child has school anxiety, please call Adrienne Blumberg in Carlsbad at (760) 729-5900