Back to School Anxiety
As children are heading back to school it is quite normal for them to feel a little anxious. Children, no matter the age can feel a little nervous. For the younger child, the anxiety can revolve around leaving home and being around older kids. For the older children, middle and high school, the anxiety can result from being liked by their peers, fitting in, having the right looking shoes, clothes or even back packs and their performance on tests and schoolwork. Some common worries include:
- Who will be my new teacher?
- What if my new teacher is mean?
- Will any of my friends be in my class?
- Will I fit in?
- Do my clothes look ok?
- Will I look stupid?
- I don’t know anyone else at school
- Who will I sit with at lunch?
- What if I miss the bus?
- What do I do if I don’t feel well?
- What if I can’t understand the new schoolwork?
- What if something bad happens to mom or dad while I am at school?
Rather than dismissing these concerns (“Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!) listening to them and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help him feel more secure. If you are nervous for your child, try not to show it. Most schools now offer an orientation evening before classes start, this is a great time to meet the teacher, to find out where to put bags and lunches, and to locate the restrooms.
One of the most important thing a parent can do when kids resist going is to continue sending them to school anyway. This may be difficult, but if we allow children to avoid situations that make them anxious, we can inadvertently reinforce that those situations are indeed dangerous or scary.