Back to school – helping your kids to cope

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annabella Sequeira

Section: Education, Parenting

Back to school – helping your kids to cope

Starting a new standard and/or new school in January is often a huge transition which leaves many children anxious, stressed and tearful. Be mindful that this is a reality, a little bit like you going to to your first day at a new job. It is daunting and we do not know what to expect. Even if children just jump a standard that still means a new challenge, new classroom, new classmates and a new teacher.

Anticipate emotional responses:
As the holidays start coming to an end, gently let your child know when the holidays will be ending. You and your child can clean and get their things ready for the new term. This will help them mentally prepare for the new term at their pace. Talk about the new environment and give as much information as possible. Be positive yourself and tell your child that it is going to be great! Your enthusiasm will instil a sense of safety for them.

Preparing with the first day:
In the morning of the first day back, make sure that the familiar get-up and/or breakfast routine is back in place. You may need to provide some calming (back-rub, pushing against the wall or drink breakfast juice through a straw), organizing (chew on bagels or dried apricots) and/or alerting (eating a crunchy apple or playing lively music) activities to manage and decrease stress in your child. Try to be slightly early for school so that your child doesn’t feel rushed into school and has time to get his or her bearings for the new environment.

Unwinding from the first day:
When you pick up your child after school help him/her reflect on the day and discuss how they are doing. When at home, provide your child the time to do something to self-regulate. This may be listening quietly to music or building Lego in their room, jumping on a trampoline or playing rugby with a brother. If they are unable to pick an appropriate calming activity, play a board game or build a puzzle with them or go for a walk round the block with them. This will help them to identify what regulates them and have quality time with you.