First-day nerves: Back-to-school advice for your child
Follow these simple strategies to help your child enjoy her school experience
Posted: 20 August 2010
Starting school is often a daunting experience for children. Letting go can be a struggle for the parents too, particularly if your child says she doesn't want to go. The anxiety is more to do with leaving a familiar environment, and their main carer rather than actually going to school. This reaction is common among young children, affecting around six in each class.
As a parent, what are the signs of anxiety I should look out for in my child?
• Looking unhappy and withdrawn.
• Complaining frequently of sore throats, tummy aches etc, which disappear when the child is allowed to
• Crying and getting upset at the thought of going to school.
What are some of the triggers of this anxiety?
• Starting school for the first time.
• A long absence from school, such as from illness or after the summer holidays.
• Particular tasks or activities the child is not comfortable with.
• The arrival of a new sibling may make an older child feel threatened.
• Difficulties or changes at home, such as divorce, new partners and sick siblings or parents.
• Moving up to a different school.
What can I do to help my child overcome the anxiety around going to school?
• Talk to your child to try to find out the cause of their anxiety. It is important at this stage to rule out
bullying or any academic difficulties.
• Arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher and explain that your child is having difficulties.
• Agree on a plan based on small manageable steps to tackle the problem.
• Praise your child for every achievement they make, however small it may seem.
• Anxiety feeds anxiety, so it is very important that you remain calm and rational with your child.
Of course parents too can struggle with that parting at the school gates. For our advice for how you can overcome your own anxieties, see How you can let go at the school gates.
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