First-day nerves: Back to school advice for your child

Follow these simple strategies to help your child enjoy her school experience

First-day nerves: Back to school advice for your child

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.

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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•    Looking unhappy and withdrawn.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 stay home.
•    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.

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{Images from the Junior Archive}