By Jay Timms :
September is back and many of us as parents are letting out a sigh of relief. Oh sure, having the kids over the summer was fun for a while, but after 2 months of being the entertainer, cook, taxi, events planner, and portable bank machine 24 hours a day, it is nice to be able to take a break. The problem is that some parents find that the closer they got to September 6th, the more they noticed their child behaving poorly, becoming more needy of their parent’s attention and time, and talking about how much they hate school. Sometimes this is more than just a child being a child.
Research into the minds of children shows that one of the most stressful times for a child can be times of transition, or moving from something familiar to something unfamiliar. This is compounded when some children are naturally prone to being a bit anxious. Moving into a new classroom, having new teachers, new friends and classmates, new schedules…all of these can bring on that feeling of stress. As adults, we can relate. Think about the first day of a new job. It is an exciting time, but one that is actually ranked as one of the highest stressors an adult faces. It is the same for our kids.
Another thing that may not be quite so obvious a stressor for kids at the start of a new school year can be dealing with bullies. Although this will be a topic for an upcoming article, it is important to mention it here. It has been my experience that rarely does a parent have a real understanding of the depth of bullying that may be going on for their child. Bullying is real, and although many schools try to curb the amount of bullying that goes on, it still does and can have a huge impact on your child’s desire to go back to school in September.
So what can we do about it?
The most important thing that we can do with a child who may be showing signs of being anxious about going back to school is to not get angry with them or minimize their fears. The biggest mistake I have seen parents make is to say, “Oh well, you will be fine”. Here is what you can do.
1. Ask them how they are feeling. Let them come up with the words and don’t assume.
2. If they are too young to describe how they are feeling, or too overwhelmed, help them to describe what it feels like in their body.
3. Assure them that it is okay to be worried
4. Tell them that you love them and believe that they can do it. If they are the type of child who likes hugs, give them a hug.
5. Let them know they can talk to you about their fears any time.
School can be a big scary place for kids of any age. But when you look for the signs and notice them, you can be a big help in your child’s transition back in September.
Jay Timms is a Relationship and Family Counsellor, award winning researcher, author of “ How to Raise a Teenager Without Using Duct Tape”, Music Therapist, Public Speaker, and President and CEO of Mpower, a company dedicated to training individuals and organizations about maximizing their potential. Visit him at www.jaytimms.com or at email@example.com.