Beating the back-to-school blues

Sunday, January 13, 2013
Beating the back-to-school blues
Try to show empathy, remind them that you will be there to pick them up, and reassure them that things will get easier.

A new school year can be an anxious time for both children and parents. Here’s how to reduce the stress.

Some children find returning to school after the long summer break difficult. And when a child is starting school for the first time, changing schools or starting high school, it can be a particularly challenging time. Whether your child is excited about the new school year or not, there are many strategies you can adopt that will make the next couple of weeks easier.

Organise play dates

Some children may not have seen their school friends for over a month. To ease them back into the playground, why not help them arrange a get-together at the local park or a trip to the movies with a few friends? If your child is starting kindergarten, a morning tea or picnic lunch with other new starters does wonders for their confidence.

Embrace the power of new stationery

Children of any age love a new pencil case, pencils and pens. A trip to the supermarket to pick out a new lunchbox also helps lift the back-to-school blues.

Get back into the school-night routine

Most kids stay up a lot later in the holidays and some enjoy a sleep-in. Returning to early wake-ups can be a real shock to the system if you haven’t managed to rein in kids’ late nights in the week leading up to going back to school.

Promote the positives

Your child may be worried about entering primary school or high school because of the extra work or higher expectations from the teachers. Try to emphasise the benefits of being in a higher year. Yes, there is more work and responsibility, but there is also a bit more freedom and a greater level of choice.

Set some goals

Children can feel motivated to start a new term if they have something to aim for. Instead of focusing on having to make new friends or cope with a new teacher, talk about the plan to train for the swimming carnival or try out for the school play. If they are in high school, discuss strategies for getting organised or staying on top of work.

Address anxiety

If your child is showing signs of anxiety (stomach aches, reluctance to go to school, sleep difficulties), this needs to be addressed. Try to show empathy, remind them that you will be there to pick them up, and reassure them that things will get easier. If the anxiety is severe, consider seeking advice from the school counsellor or a psychologist.

Don't forget mum time

Many mums feel a little sad when a child starts school. It’s the end of their time at home and there can be a sense that you are not needed as much. Plan to meet some other mums for coffee on the first day, so you can surround yourself with women who know what you’re going through. Or perhaps you’d prefer to take the day off work or chores and do something nice for yourself, such as getting a massage.

Related video: It's no surprise that children suffer from low self-esteem especially during school years. To give us the best tips on building your child’s confidence Psychologist Jo Lamble shares her advice.

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