Anxious about heading back to school

Do you remember as a kid, heading back to school after enjoying those 6 week holidays? Ahhh, I remember (especially when being very young) that the summer lasted forever, and that when it was finally over, I dreaded heading back to school. For me, I simply didn’t want the summer to be over, but for many children, this is a time of great anxiety.

Back to school

Anxious about heading back to school

There are lots of things that children may be anxious about, for example, heading to a new school, or into a year where they know they have important exams coming up – such as GCSE or A-Levels. Other possible anxieties include:

  • Making new friends
  • Seeing friends they haven’t seen since school term ended
  • Seeing the school / class bully
  • Being in a new school
  • Being cool
  • Coping with the study demands
  • Fear of failure, in terms of study, exams, or even sport
  • Anxiety of being anxious

For most children, once they are back to school and back in the swing of things, a lot of these anxious feelings go, but for some, they won’t…

If anxiety persists

If anxiety persists, it can lead to all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms or acting out behaviours.  Some common issues include tummy aches and sleep problems, but anxiety can lead to out-and-out refusal to go to school.

Most children can overcome their anxieties with the help of their parents.  Therefore, talking about their worries and helping them to feel safe and secure is often very helpful. Here are some tips…

Help your child overcome their anxiety

  • Communication with children should start early if at all possible.  Parents should talk about school in a light and fun way, perhaps recalling funny and interesting stories of their own.  School experiences should be talked about as well as expectations.  The child should be encouraged to talk about their thoughts and feelings so solutions can be worked out in advance.
  • We should  remember that children pick up on our own emotions, and this can amplify feelings of anxiety further. How many of us get a lump in our throat when we wave goodbye to our child on the first day school?  It is important to remember that children can pick up on these small things, increasing the state of anxiety. Therefore, parents should smile, hug and kiss
    and wave goodbye.  It is important to create a light and positive state so the child picks up on this instead of anxiety.
  • Parents can shop for school supplies with their children, making it a good opportunity to chat about school in a healthy, relaxed and fun way.
  • Ensure you allow enough time in the morning routine to get your child to school in state that he or she is ready to start the day of learning.  Rushing and shouting only increases an anxious child’s anxiety
  • For younger children it’s important to let them know in advance what is happening. Young children do not comprehend time scales in the way older children do and its important to  continuously signpost their week so they know what is happening.  We do not like the unknown and the anxious child struggles with it more and surprises can be very hard to manage when you are in a state of anxiety

Children who become very withdrawn from their family and friends, experience loss of appetite and become lethargic may be experiencing depression. Any dramatic change in mood and behaviour that persists should be seen as a sign and advice from a professional may be appropriate.

What about you?

If your child is leaving home for college for the first time and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by sadness and loss you may be experiencing a healthy negative emotion, but if your emotional state persists for weeks and weeks then you may be experiencing unhealthy negative emotions like depression. You can learn more about this by looking at our website

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