Whether your child is headed off to preschool, elementary school, middle school or high school, this is a whole new schedule and round of activities for everyone to adjust too. Sometimes children are super excited for this phase, as it is a new year with friends as well as daily structure and the consistency they need to reach their maximum learning growth. But for others, this is the start of a very stressful time of year full of anxiety, depression and fear.
If your child is suffering from back to school anxiety, help them by acknowledging their feelings, showing empathy, supporting them and grounding them to what is true. There may be rough, long nights ahead, and that’s okay, it is temporary and what they need the most is to feel like they have security at home. Tough love tends to have the opposite reaction, if they are told that their fears are not real or silly, then left to process them on their own before they are ready, it may literally feel like terror to your child and leave them spinning with nothing to hold on too.
In times like these, it is helpful to think about how old your child is, what they can mentally process at that age, what may be triggering these fears, emotions around them and so on. Communicate with them regularly so that they feel heard. Stomach aches are going to happen; tears may happen too. This is all part of the anxious cycle. Share these fears with their teachers, no one can read their minds and they may not realize how much it is affecting your child.
As your child adapts and processes these changes, with healthy support from their parents, teachers and friends, things will begin to settle in and slowly feel better…but they can’t fathom this until it happens for them and they are ready. This is not something that can be told, pushed or ignored.
Until then, parents, be your child’s rock, listen to them and support them. It is not easy and can be very scary. Just remember, you know your child best – take a deep breath. You got this.
Please check out more helpful links below and if anyone has any questions or needs additional support with this, please don’t hesitate to contact me. This is something I have experience with both personally, as well as professionally and each child and situation is unique.
I am a counselor at Lighthouse Counseling at the beautiful downtown Waconia location. I enjoy working with children ages 6 and up, teens, college students, adults, couples, families and seniors. I focus on using a variety of strategies, based upon what may work best with each individual personality and situation. If you are interested in establishing a supportive, trusting and open relationship, then we may be a good fit and I would love to hear from you.