The transition back to class can be a stressful time for children and parents alike. Some anxiety is a normal response, but parents should know the difference between normal back-to-school jitters and anxiety that warrants clinical attention. What’s more, for some students, it will be the first time for them to go to school in person and finally get to meet their friends. Even those seniors haven’t gone to school on and off for almost a year and half. As a parent, how we can prepare back-to-school and wisely guide our children?
First of all, there are several easy ways to tell when a child’s anxiety is cause for concern, say psychology experts from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Anxiety symptoms that persist beyond the first few weeks of school and that seem excessive may require consultation with an expert, says Johns Hopkins Children’s Center psychologist Courtney Keeton, who specializes in the treatment of childhood anxiety and selective mutism.
Many children, for example, display some difficulty separating from parents to attend school, however tantrums when separating, problems sleeping alone or refusal to attend activities without parents may suggest a problem requiring intervention.
Likewise, some shyness or worry about schedules, schoolwork, or friends is natural during the back-to-school transition, but ongoing withdrawal or worries may signal a problem.
“If a child’s anxiety is causing a great deal of distress in her or his daily life, or if getting along with family members or friends becomes difficult, normal activities in and outside of school are avoided, or there are physical symptoms like stomachaches or fatigue, these ‘red flags’ indicate that the child’s anxiety should be evaluated by a child psychologist or psychiatrist,” says Keeton.
However, it is normal for nearly all children to experience mild back-to-school jitters that gradually diminish over a few weeks.
Tips to Ease Anxiety
- A week or two before school, start preparing children for the upcoming transition by getting back to school year routines, such as a realistic bedtime and selecting tomorrow’s clothes.
- Arrange play dates with one or more familiar peers before school starts. Research shows that the presence of a familiar peer during school transitions can improve children’s academic and emotional adjustment.
- Visit the school before the school year begins, rehearse the drop-off and spend time on the playground or inside the classroom if the building is open. Have the child practice walking into class while the parent waits outside or down the hall.
- Come up with a prize or a rewarding activity that the child could earn for separating from mom or dad to attend school. For example, rewarding children with complemeting stickers and in the end of it, give them what they like. noP has a great way to do start with, such as Penguin Coinbox. Start to reward them a stickers and allow them to cash out their reward. What’s more you can also teach them basic financial knowledge as well!
- Validate the child’s worry by acknowledging that, like any new activity, starting school can be hard but soon becomes easy and fun. Finding some role playing which chilren can build up their social skills are the good start. There are many Kids House for role play in noP. Check out and get some more role playing ideas.
We know that back-to-school is a fortunate but also a tough time for our parents to adjust. Don’t worry too much though. We will find a way as we always did, and noP will be always there for parents partner.