Adjusting to a new school year can be a most challenging task.
Younger children may come to us in tears, declaring between sobs that they are not ready for school. Older ones may experience mood swings and lash out in irritation. As parents, we need to recognise that anxiety tends to creep up on our children as they anticipate a new school year ridden with possible changes and many unknowns.
Here are some strategies that can help you cope as a family:
1. Speak to your child
Take the time to talk to your child and help them identify possible concerns. Acknowledge their worries and help them come up with coping methods to handle their fears.
For example, if they anticipate challenges in coping with homework and that doing what they love will be sacrificed, come up with a plan that gives structure to a day and help them look forward to playtime or family bonding time when homework is done.
If it is the fear of failure, encourage them that the family will support them through the learning process and they will not be measured against their results.
Often times, just being able to express their feelings does them a world of good. As parents, we should not dismiss their anxious feelings. Better yet, share your personal stories of working through transitions when growing up, so they do not feel so alone in their fears.
“As parents, we should not dismiss their anxious feelings.”
2. Work with the school
Make the effort to join a parent support group or forge relationships with our children’s school teachers or counsellors. Our children come into contact with them on a daily basis and they can provide valuable insight into possible sources of stress.
Take the opportunity to share with the teachers as to what is being done at home. This would ensure a consistent approach to managing your child’s anxiety.
3. Be positive and optimistic
Parents need to manage personal worries. Parental anxiety can be infectious. Children often mirror their parents’ responses. All the more, it is imperative that we exercise self-control and remain positive in all things. Instead of viewing a child’s worries as a problem, turn it into a teachable moment and impart coping mechanisms that can help carry them through life.
“Parents need to manage personal worries. Parental anxiety can be infectious.”
4. Learn coping mechanisms
Coping with anxiety might not be instinctive for many of us. As such, it benefits children greatly when parents make an effort to learn how to manage stress and anxiety.
Make time to read books, attend talks and workshops to better understand childhood anxieties and how we can help them cope with school better. It is also empowering to meet with other parents who are facing similar challenges.
5. Spend time together
Quality time spent with children brings great comfort to them. Kids feel affirmed knowing that they matter enough as parents carve out time to be with them. An anxious child would be in need of more attention and affection on a daily basis. Quality time can include doing the things they love together with them, and providing a listening ear.
Ushering in the new school year can bring with it challenges but with intentional effort on parents’ part, children will be able to better manage their anxieties and fears while acquiring coping skills that they will take them through life.
© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
This article was first published on MindChamps and republished with permission.
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