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Beyond The Maze

Managing Anxiety

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With school now returned for the year, you may have been dealing with anxiety.  

I know this is the case with a few phone calls I have had from concerned parents recently.  However, what are our children anxious about really? 

Maybe it is the unknown.  They are leaving the safe surrounds of home about to the put in a classroom with at least 25 other children with a teacher that they probably don’t really know!   Why wouldn’t they be anxious?!

Our kids thrive on routine and this can be the complete opposite. 

However, is this really what they are anxious about? 

Maybe there is more to it then just returning to school.  Maybe there may be anxiety about other children at the school, maybe they are just starting a new school or it is their first year of school, maybe they know something that happens in their year level (like Naplan) and they are worried about that? 

They are telling themselves a story and whether it is real or not they believe it to be true!  

So how can we help them?

Here are my 5 tips to reducing anxiety around returning to school:

  1. Ask your child what they are worried about.  This might sound obvious but quite often we assume we know what they are worried about.  There is nothing wrong with this at all as we know our children quite well but often, they are thinking about something that is completely different to what we thought.  Once we are clear on what they are anxious about then we can help them accordingly.
  2. When you find out what they are worried about, ask them to explain what they think may happen.  Don’t disregard their feelings by saying things like “oh, you will be fine it will be alright” Let me know that you understand how they are feeling, and you are there to help them work through it.  
  3. Remind them about things they like about school or if there are any other children, they like who they haven’t seen over the school holidays.   This gives them something to look forward to.  There will be something, just keep digging, even if it is just the tiniest bit of enjoyment you can find, run with it.  They will need something to look forward to.
  4. Avoid staying focused on the negative.  Many kids have a negative view about school and that’s because a lot of their time there can be negative.  Even as adults we don’t like being in a negative environment, so it is no different for our kids.  Focusing on the things that work rather than what don’t work will help move forward.
  5. Talk to the school.   If you can do this before school starts it is even better.   Advise them that your child is anxious, and you are concerned about the first few days at school.   Ask if the new teacher is open to speak with you before school starts or you are able to come early to allow your child to meet them quietly and see the classroom.  If you can, assure your child that you will support them as much as you can.

Going back to school brings with it a certain amount of anxiety to everyone.  Even us as parents we can be a little concerned about what the year will bring with school.  School can be quite a challenge for our children, and we need to support them as much as we can.

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