Reasons for Anxiety
Out of Routine
Starting school can be challenging for both parents and kids alike, explains counselling psychologist Madeeha Afridi because the new school year signifies out of the holiday routine and back to a structured, often very busy, schedule for the child and parent.
Shift in Schedule
Another reason is the summer versus school year schedule. According to Afridi, children and families often have an unstructured, more relaxed and easy going schedule over the summer, without the added pressure of going to school.
Healthy anxiety can be the child expressing their nervousness about beginning a new school year, their thoughts and emotions, in general about the experience, which parents should welcome and encourage, says Afridi. While unhealthy anxiety can be when a child consistently expresses their fear of beginning the school year, and in addition, they begin to have physical symptoms such as stomach aches, body pains, or headaches associated with starting school.
How To Help Your Child
For some children who are having difficulty with beginning a new school year, Afridi advises that parents can take the child to school to have the child become familiarized with being on school grounds after a long summer break.
Reach out to School
If a child is presenting with an unusual level of anxiety, Afridi points out that the parent can reach out to the school and let them know, and ask whether they can support their child in any way.
Tips Parents Can Do To Help Their Kids
Get Back into Routine: If a family does not settle back into a routine a week or two prior to school beginning, children will feel more anxious and unsettled as the first day of school approaches. Children feel safe and thrive when they have structure and routine.
Mind-set: As important as it is for parents to create a space at home where children are able to come to them with their worries and anxieties, it is just as important for parents to be aware of their own mind-set, as it relates to the school year and other areas of their life.
Open-Communication: We are emotional beings and when children feel like they are unable to express themselves openly, especially to their parents, they bottle up their emotions, which can turn into anxiety, depression, panic, and other mental and physical disorders.
Encouragement: Parents can create an environment in their family where there is a positive attitude towards school and beginning a school year, compared to a negative one. Parents can reframe their communication to, “what are you
looking forward to this year? What types of activities are you looking forward to participating in?”
(Credit: Madeeha Afridi)