Although social distancing restrictions have been taken away, we understand returning to school may still be an anxiety-inducing time as covid cases remain high. In this article, we will share helpful advice aimed at relieving stress and promoting good mental health for children and parents.

Back-to-school anxiety is normal

 

It is normal for children to be equally excited and anxious about a new school year starting, during the covid-19 or not. They may worry about new teachers, friends, workload and spending time away from their families and pets.

Parents may share these feelings and have additional concerns.  For example, fears about covid-19 transmission to grandparents, their child’s academic and social development and adjusting their work around this new routine.

 

What you can do to help your child’s anxiety

 

If your child is suffering from back-to-school anxiety, here are 7 ways to help them deal with the issue:

 

1.Preparation. An open discussion about the upcoming academic year will encourage your child to voice their fears and anxieties. This cathartic release is vital for children as it helps them overcome their anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings.

 

2. Encourage your child to talk to their friends. This can dispel fears and make them feel excited about going back to school. Perhaps meet in the park and plan some social activities before they meet in the classroom.

 

3. Create a positive atmosphere at home by talking cheerfully about the new school year, and all the happy and good things about going back to school.

 

4. Take them back-to-school shopping and get things ready for the new school year will make them feel more positive and excited about going back to school. This will also give them a sense of normality.

 

5. Help your child plan and organise their back-to-school paraphernalia like school bag, pencil box and stationery.

 

6. Begin regulating their sleeping and eating schedules at least one week prior to the school reopening day. Ensuring that they get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet will help them feel relaxed and calm. Remember, lack of proper sleep and food can make children feel angry, irritable and restless.

 

7. Help them structure their routine. For example, getting the school bags and uniforms ready the previous night, to avoid feeling overburdened with tasks in the morning, setting a wake-up time and so on. Remember that many children and teenagers are not their best in the mornings and they have had a long time away from the usual school routine. It may take a bit longer to readjust their internal time-clock to be able to function properly in the morning.

 

 

5 Things to avoid when dealing with a child with back-to-school anxiety:

 

1.Try not to dismiss your child’s fears as baseless and brush them away.

 

2. Don’t just tell your child everything will be okay and they need to grow up and get on with it. Children need to voice their fears to feel reassured. Avoid comparing your child with children who aren’t anxious about going back to school.

 

3. Keep your negative views about your child’s school and teacher to yourself. Never make disparaging comments about the school and teachers in front of your child. This can create a negative atmosphere and increase your child’s fear and anxiety.

 

4. Avoid getting too involved in solving your child’s problems. Give them the space and time to figure things out on their own.

 

5. Try not to get frustrated with your child in the morning if they are being slow getting ready for school on time. Try to prepare and plan your routine in a systematic manner, and remain calm and collected. Sometimes you can unwittingly project your own fear and anxiety onto your child.

 

 

What you can do to relieve your own stress as a parent

 

  1. Be as informed as possible. Read up on the schools reopening Government guidelines here. The sections on risk assessments, the test and trace process and pastoral support should hopefully calm your nerves and reassert that this is the right decision, informed by professional thinking.

 

  1. Create social support networks with other parents. Here you can speak about the topic away from your child. Search the web for useful guides and advice such as this one here from the BBC.

 

  1. Think positive. You no longer have to home school and carry the large burden of academic development solely on your back. Furthermore, in smaller groups, the changes might be positive, especially for older children. More focussed attention and more opportunities for children to talk in class are just two of the hidden benefits of temporarily reduced class sizes. Those ‘bubbles’ they are in might just be a better way of learning. Children are likely to be happier and more fulfilled within their school environment, with their friends. The school routine is good for them and you and will help establish more certainty in their lives and a new normal.

 

  1. Educate yourself on the symptoms of anxiety so you can recognise it properly in yourself and in your child. From this point on, it will be clearer how to treat it. Click here for some common signs of anxiety in children. Many of these overlap in adults too. Read our recent article about 19 proven ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Many of these methods of dealing with anxiety, such as exercising, breathing exercises and writing things down can be shared experiences with your child.

 

 

 

Train with us

We offer tailored first aid courses covering the above topics to empower you with the skills to keep you and your family safe and well. We have a superb online 8 hour course for mental health first aid. It consists of videos, step by step directions, infographics and test yourself sections. You can stop and start as you wish. It covers all aspects of Mental Health First Aid, with an emphasis on promoting good mental health. There are tips for mental well-being, help for organisations, advice for mental first aiders and key pointers to help recognise early warning signs someone may be struggling with their mental health.

 

About us

 

First Aid for Life provide award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs – Please visit our site and learn more about our practical and online courses. It is vital to keep your skills current and refreshed. We are currently providing essential training for individuals and groups across the UK. In addition, we have a great range of online courses. These are ideal as refreshers for regulated qualifications or as Appointed Person qualifications.

 

You can attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

 

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

 

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken on this information.

 

Emma Hammett
Author: Emma Hammett