Most children love school because they get to meet and spend time with their friends and favorite teachers there. But not every kid sees school as a fun place, especially this anxiety around going back to school is pronounced right after holidays or long weekends. 

The ratio of children with back-to-school anxiety has significantly increased in the post-Covid era. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, schools were forced to shut down along with businesses and other public places. 

In many countries, a remote or hybrid mode of study is still being followed. However, as the pandemic restrictions are easing ever so slowly, schoolchildren of many countries are preparing to make an on-site comeback. 

This has made the children anxious about rejoining school—a phenomenon that has come to be known as back-to-school anxiety. Parents and teachers need to work with children to help them feel at ease in the school.

In this article, we will discuss how parents can help their children readjust at school without feeling stressed, anxious, or scared. Moreover, these practices will also help them become more independent and make them face their fears head-on.

Arrange for a Hand-Off

If your child is going to school for the first time, their propensity for reluctance, caused by separation anxiety, is relatively high. We will discuss how, as a parent, you can help your child overcome their separation anxiety issues in a separate section below. 

If you feel like your child may have trouble separating from you on their first day of school, you should arrange for a hand-off. While a teacher may seem like your best option for making the hand-off, they are preoccupied with a lot of responsibilities of their own. 

Many schools hire counselors, coaches, and social workers credentialed with a masters in social work online who can apply their professional knowledge to help children through this transition.

So, get in touch with a school social worker beforehand to discuss your child’s situation to plan for a smooth hand-off. Usually, the school social workers help the children overcome separation anxiety by making them do seemingly grown-up and important activities, like organizing pens color-wise. In this way, the child’s attention can be diverted from fixating on anxiety.

Be an Active Listener

When it comes to helping your kid overcome back-to-school anxiety, the importance of active listening cannot be overstated. As a parent, you should listen to your child’s concerns and challenges attentively. You shouldn’t overanalyze or rationalize their fears as it can feed their anxiety.

As a parent, your job is to acknowledge your child’s feelings instead of dismissing them. Moreover, you can boost their confidence by strategizing with them to help them learn how to handle difficult situations. 

Having said that, though, you shouldn’t pressurize your kid into having a discussion with you about their concerns if they don’t feel like getting into it. Instead of projecting your expectations onto their behaviors, you have to learn about them and their feelings about going to school. Only by actively listening to them, you can understand a lot about your child’s concerns and expectations for going to school. 

Set a Routine

Ever since the pandemic, normal sleep-wake cycles have been disrupted. But to help your child seamlessly transition from home-based learning to on-premise classes, you should establish a routine beforehand. 

You’ll have to factor in getting ready, eating breakfast, and commuting time into account when helping your children make the transition. This means that you will need to make some adjustments to your own routine as well. 

Helping your child get ready for school and making sure that they’re at the school for classes on time requires that you sleep and wake up early. Check all the bus routes the school transport caters to. Also, factor in the time it takes to reach the bus stop. Thinking about these little things can cost you unnecessary drama on a school day, which might increase your child’s going back-to-school anxiety. 

Deal With Separation Anxiety

Many school-going kids, especially the younger ones, suffer from separation anxiety. If your child is just starting out in school, their biggest fear or anxiety will be separating from their parents. Usually, kids are dependent on their parents for care and support. 

So, when they have to separate from their parents and be away at school for the most part of a day, it can lead them to experience separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is less in kids who have been admitted in a daycare or preschool before. 

So, try enrolling them in preschool to prepare them for the time when you’ll have to leave them at the school entrance. If your child trusts that you’ll be back after a few hours to pick them up and take them home, they’ll experience less anxiety. 

Address Physical Symptoms

Back-to-school anxiety can also lead to a manifestation of physical symptoms. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to, headaches, stomachaches, and nausea before leaving for school in the morning. 

These physical symptoms may prevent a child from going to school. However, if it happens once or twice, it is usually nothing to worry about, but if it becomes a pattern, you need to get them checked by a pediatrician.

If the problem persists even after a medical checkup, parents should try unearthing the underlying cause of their child’s anxiety. Some children have more serious issues, like undiagnosed learning disorders or OCD. 

Children with more serious issues feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable at school, so they would shy away from the experience. Another reason your child might want to be skipping school could be bullying. 

Do a Test Run

If you are concerned that your child might have a hard time at school on their first day, a test run (or several) may be a good idea to look into. You should take them to the school and let them check out their classroom a few times before their school starts. 

You should give them a tour of the school and show them the classroom, bathroom, cafeteria, and the principal’s office. If you can ask a few neighborhood moms to bring their children to the school, your child can play with them in the playground. It will give them an idea about how fun school can be, and they will want to go back again.

Get Professional Help

You should try everything you can to help your child transition to the on-site school. However, if nothing seems to help, maybe you need to get some professional help. A school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, or considerate teacher can be of great help. Let your kid get in touch with them to see if they can make this transition smoother.

The Final Word

Back-to-school anxiety is real, and it should be taken seriously. Parents should pay attention to their children’s demands and concerns. They should also monitor their physical symptoms to get them the medical help they need. If nothing else works, however, they should ask for professional help to get their child to develop an interest in going to school and overcoming their anxiety.

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