As the beginning of the new School Term begins the stresses, anxieties and worries compound and on top of the already existing post-pandemic struggles, plus the changes and disruption to the normal routines the chances of stress are much more acute than before.
So, to help you I have put together a few helpful tips and resources as you will see below.
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Life today for both kids and Parents is fraught with challenges, that’s why its crucial for parents and kids to find effective coping strategies and solutions to build resilience and mental strength.
Here are tips and resources to help you have a more relaxed Back-to-School journey without the hassle and stress.
01: Getting Back into a Routine.
As you’ll know, summer holidays mean flexible routines or no routine at all… which is a routine in itself!
By adding in more smaller routines gradually as the new term starts you can regulate your child/teens mental adjustments.
Useful routines can be going to bed a little earlier and getting up earlier so that when Schools starts it’s not a shock to the system.
Get back to a routine of a sort can be very beneficial and avoid the stresses for all the family.
02: Overcome the Pre-start Worries!
There are lots of things to worry about when the new School term looms, but most of the time these worries are irrational and illusionary.
5 Power Questions your child/teen should ask when worry gets into the mind
- Is it true? For example “I won’t be able to make any friends” etc.?
- With absolute certainty is it true?
- How do I feel when I believe this thought/statement?
- How would I feel if I couldn’t have this thought/statement?
- Flip the thought/statement to it’s opposite (“I will make some really good and cool friends”), is this now more true than the original repetitive anxious thought you were having?
Ask your child/teen to make a positive statement: (I will make some really good and cool friends. For example!)
Ask them to take ownership of the positive statement.
If they want to make friends they have to be friendly.
Be more friendly and approachable with others – ask questions such as ‘what did you do over the summer?’ ‘Are you playing any sport at the moment?’ Open ended questions help to start the conversation. And when someone asks a question back, expand on the answer to help the flow of conversation.
Think of it like this:
01: Think about the response you’d ideally like/want from the other person.
02: Create a question that opens the pathway to getting the specific response. Think of it like a file being opened in a filing cabinet. You pick the file!
03: Once you start to see a positive response then continue with further conversational questions.
This is also a fantastic antidote for having Social Anxiety.
03: Talk to Your Child/Teen
Sit down or find a convenient time/place and talk to your child/teen about School.
If you talk then chances are you can steer your child/teen into looking at new perspective and solutions thinking.
Talking is all about the right timing and being in the right moment for the talk to be initiated.
It’s always about asking open-ended questions (as opposed to yes/no one’s) and then pause.
Wait for them to process the information and answer you.
Let them know it’s OK to feel worried or anxious.
Don’t rush or press them for an answer. Allow them time to find their own solution if possible?
Try these strategies that can help you communicate more effectively.
Nonverbal Communication Strategies:
1. Take a breather. Before you approach any subject of uncomfortability take a step back and breathe.
2. Be affectionate. Touch is vital for healthy brain development and bonding. Hug your children regularly. But don’t make it look like its predictable/obvious.
3. Play around. Some children may find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Tossing a ball around or playing with a pet (but not a goldfish 😁) can help release stress. When they’re ready to talk, you’ll know!
4. Use creative expression (if appropriate?). Ask your child to draw or write how they are feeling (even if it’s just a text message?). Study what they create. They may give you insights into what’s on their mind.
5. Stay informed. The more you know about your child/teens schedule and studies, the more you’ll be able to support them. Talk with their teacher and other parents. Use the school website to stay updated on news and events.
6. Engage in activities. The most constructive conversations often develop naturally when you’re preparing dinner or taking a walk together. Spending time with your child/teen creates more opportunities for deeper communication.
7. Try family dinners. One of the most beneficial activities is eating together. Regular family dinners provide a time to connect and practice conversation skills.
Verbal Communication Strategies:
1. Ask specific questions. Younger children often need targeted questions to help them organise their thoughts. If you want to understand how they feel about School, guide them through the process with soft open-ended questions as we covered above.
2. Be direct. Transparency will earn you more trust than skirting around sensitive subjects. Be gentle but firm when you need to explore behaviour issues or unfounded worries and concerns.
3. Offer praise. Pay attention to your child’s accomplishments as well as the areas where they might be struggling. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort to learn French or being kind to a new child who is also stressed about school.
4. Encourage solutions. It’s tempting to rush in and fix things when you see your child/teen in distress. However, they’ll have a brighter future if you give them enough room to solve their own challenges.
5. Laugh it up. Use a little humour to defuse worrying situations. Share a story from your childhood about how you dealt with your worries and fears about your School days.
6. Be a role model. Sharing details about your School days or another situation where you were worried. When you open-up your child/teen will find it easier to how to talk about their experiences too. Of course it always boils down to the type of relationship you have with your child/teen?
7. Listen closely. Be an active listener. Set aside time to stop what you’re doing, and give your child your full attention. They’ll be more likely to open up when they see how much you care.
The way you talk with your child/teen has a major impact on being able to share information and build strong connections. Let your child/teen know that you’re committed to helping them feel better about the new School term or transition, and ask them what you can do to help them learn, grow and be happier.
Hope this has helped you find some positive ways to help your child/teen go back to School with more confidence.
Thanks, Annette x
Watch this helpful video on School worries!