Charlotte talks back to school anxiety on 5AA with Will Goodings
Charlotte spoke with WIll Goodings on his daily show with 5AA and offered a few ideas for school-starters and those returning to school after the summer break.
1. Relax or at least try to... parents first! Children often reflect the mood at home and if parents are nervous or anxious about day 1 this will most likely be mirrored back at them through their kids. Its perfectly normal to feel apprehensive (for both parent and child) after all its an unknown but teach your child that the unknown doesn't have to be dreaded!
2. Reassurance; let your child/young person know that its OK to feel this way and that its going to be OK
3. Be aware; look out for signs of anxiety (tummy aches, sleep disturbance, moody) and give offer support or a cuddle if you notice changes in behaviour.
4. Prepare; do a drive through or run through of getting to school. Walk through the school yard over the weekend if possible, have a look around and play on equipment if the gates are open. Any exposure to the schoolyard in a relaxed informal way will be beneficial.
5. Structure; use the few days before returning to prepare your child (and yourself) for the wakeup time and routine required for things to run smoothly on a school day. This may also mean snacking at recess time, and then sitting down for lunch at a certain time to adjust to the boundaries that need to be respected at school. Bring forward bed time to be more appropriate for the school term.
6. Empathise dont sympathise; It may be appropriate to tell stories about your first day at school, with a productive moral eg; you were nervous and then discovered everyone else was too but showed it in different ways, and then at the end of the day realised it was great fun. Describe the pride felt when you got through a tough day/experience.
7. Dont hang around; make a plan for yourself to do something after drop off, let your child know that you are happy (not that you are going to be missing them all day, they dont need that guilt and worry as well).
Older students starting a new school or returning to school can experience anxiety as well. Run throughs and a walk through school are equally beneficial for this age group.
Breathing exercises and a discussion about safe places like the library or school counsellor or nurse can also help. Its important to let students of all ages know that everyone experiences apprehension, some people call it excitement and others call it fear but its there in the pit of their stomach so be kind to someone else as its likely they are in the same boat !