Returning to school next week will bring a host of different emotions for many families up and down the country. With months of home-schooling behind them, getting the transition from home to school right is crucial for children. From wearing masks and Covid tests, to getting used to different rules, the ‘new’ school day will be daunting for many children.
That’s why we’ve worked with Dr Julie Smith, a Clinical Psychologist and expert in mental health, to offer advice on how to manage the transition back to school for both children and parents. Here we provide some helpful tips on how to spot behaviours that might show your child is anxious, but not sharing their concerns and how to help them with their feelings.
Dr. Julie Smith’s seven point action plan...
1. Make time. Set aside just 10 minutes each day to talk with your child one to one and listen to anything your child may want to share.
2. Validate their feelings. If your child does express worries and anxiety about school, validate that by letting them know that you are listening and not attempting to correct or dismiss how they feel.
3. Normalise. Reflect that many children will be feeling this way and that it is understandable and normal. Big changes can trigger big feelings. That is ok.
4. The feeling is temporary. New things often feel scary at first. Let your child know that the anxious feeling does calm over time, once they get back into a routine.
5. Help them find a focus. If your child is anxious, guide them to focus on what they need to do. For example, say hi to your friends, hand up your bag, find a seat.
6. Reassurance. Make sure your child understands they only need to focus on following the rules and having fun being kids – it’s our job as a grown-up to worry about the virus.
7. Be prepared. Allow some extra time in the morning to help reduce everyone’s stress levels so everyone heads out the door with a positive mindset.