Coping with Back to School Stress and Anxiety
Going back to school, or starting a new school, is an exciting time but it can also be a stressful time too - for children of all ages! So we asked a range of experts and parents for their top tips on coping with those 'back to school' stresses and anxieties.
Find time to connect with your child with no technology.
After your child has been at school all day, coming home and spending too much time on a computer or an iPad can make them feel disconnected from the world. Emily Marquis, Life Coach who specialises in Mums going through personal transitions, offers her advice for reducing those back to school stresses to ensure your child still feels connected; 'Make time once a week to just spend time with your family. No technology involved. Get the week's worries behind you and just be. Have it be an open time to discuss how things are going.'
Give your child a set place to learn.
Create a space in a child's bedroom where they can just learn - maybe with a desk, some nice stationary and educational books? Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills Child, Parenting, and Relationship Psychotherapist, kindly chatted with us about the importance of providing a special place for children to learn at home; 'Establish a regular homework space. For instance, place a personal desk and chair in your child's bedroom or in the kitchen. Have your child always do their homework in the same area for continuity, routine, and structure.'
Use fun games as an engaging way to learn.
If your child is worrying about performing badly in a particular subject, find a 'fun' learning method to further their knowledge in that subject. We spoke with Lisa McCartney, Chief 'Plyter', for education board game PLYT. She discusses the benefits of this educational board game, especially for children who struggle with maths; 'Parents are often not confident with maths themselves or they say it is taught differently than when they were at school so they don’t know how to help their kids, or in bigger families they don’t have time to spend hours with each of their children doing maths homework. That’s where PLYT can really help. A family can all play together – no matter what their respective ages or abilities.'
Work as a team!
It can help your child to feel more at ease if they know that they can come to you with any worries. Angela Roeber, from Project Harmony, discusses the important of being open and helpful when your child has stresses relating to school; 'Make yourself available. Take advantage of your time together in the car or at bedtime, to listen to your child’s concerns, questions or worries. Problem-solve together. If your child has concerns it is better to take them seriously and look for solutions. Just reassuring may prevent the child from expressing their feelings again.'
Discuss the positive parts of school with your child.
Refer to 'going back to school' as a really positive thing to do! Discuss all the fun things that your child will encounter whilst going back to school, not just the hard parts. We spoke with Mum of two boys, Latasha Kennedy, and she discussed how she gets her kids excited for going back to school: 'I get my kids involved in conversations about things they're really looking forward to do, whether it be new sneakers or seeing their friends again. Talking about what they're looking forward to seems to always lighten the mood towards going back to school.'
Create visible goals for your child.
It feels good when you have something to work towards and even better when you achieve it! So give your child some visible goals then reward them when they accomplish those goals. Yolanda Coleman, Founder and President of Team Tutor, discusses the importance of setting goals: 'Set Goals & Expectations. Work together with your child to develop goals and expectations for the new school year. Make sure the goals that are set are realistic, simple and appropriate for your child's age and maturity level. Once the goals are established, write them and display them in an area that is visible for your child on a daily basis.'
Some children feel fidgety and therefore get distracted easily at school, so a new school resource called 'Bouncy Bands' is becoming increasingly more popular as a way to keep children engaged! The Bouncy Bands basically attach to the bottom of a child's desk and do exactly what they say on the tin. They allow kids to bounce their feet on them when they begin to feel stressed or nervous. Very simple idea but proven to be really successful.
Gardening can be a great way for kids to relieve stress.
In one of our most popular blog posts we discuss how gardening has massive benefits for your mental health, not just your physical health - 5 ways that gardening improves your mental health. So it can be an excellent coping mechanism for children struggling at school. If you're keen to encourage your children to play outside more, even when it's colder, then our Wooden Playhouses are perfect for that! You could even have some plants for them to water and look after around the Playhouse - to encourage gardening!
Further help for parents with Anxious Children
NHS Anxiety in Children - http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/anxiety-in-children.aspx Young Minds - http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_parents/worried_about_your_child/anxiety Psych Central Sensitive Children Who Develop Significant Anxiety - http://psychcentral.com/lib/sensitive-children-who-develop-significant-anxiety/ Child Mind Institute - http://childmind.org/topics-a-z/ Worry Wise Kids - http://www.worrywisekids.org/