You remember that feeling, don’t you? That feeling of pure, unfiltered dread tingling your spine, sparked by the horrific sight of your uniform in the morning. Hung up on your door-handle carefully pressed with crisp newness. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere to taunt you, as if to say ‘don’t forget about school’. Even armed with the knowledge that it was thoughtfully placed there by your parents, the feeling always teeters towards paranormality.
No.1 – Prep! Prep! Prep
Like all parents, I’m sure you’re aware that preparation is key. Although mistakes do happen, it’s never a bad thing to actively lessen the stress that is plentiful in times like this. Fridge lists are the old reliable of school prep, and are an effective way of making sure everything’s done, such as lunches and the before mentioned uniform prep. Although do try to be less spooky with it… On top of checklists, practice school runs are a perfect way to lessen the anxiety of the day and allows the situation to feel more familiar to your kids and even yourself. As the saying goes, the first steps the hardest. So actively softening that step will make the day a less stressful ordeal guaranteed. This is especially useful if your child is starting a new school, having just grown out of their last one, or moved from another area. If they’re just starting school, it’s a good practice to take them to the school prior to their first day so it isn’t as much of an unknown entity to them.
No.2 – Talking is key
Even if they don’t identify that they are anxious, empower them with the dialogue that’s now created. Tell them how awesome it’s going to go, and how many friends they’ll make. And on top of all of this, let them know that anxiety at this stage is entirely normal. They’re not alone. This allows them to understand that their anxiety isn’t unique to them, and this understanding is often the largest step to overcoming it, as people are more inclined to talk about situations that people will actually understand.
No.3 – Some physical techniques
Communication is awesome. But can sometimes not provide the adequate help for some children. If this is the case, here’s some neat tricks the help your child physically. The first of these is to focus on individual sounds. A washing machine in use. A distant dog barking at a neighbouring cat (or in the case of my dog, nothing in particular). The beautiful chorus of the many birds. All of these sounds are useful to bring their heart rate down if they focus on just those and try to switch off for a moment to everything else. They can even focus on their feet and the earth beneath it. This will stabilise them and remind them that they are 100% safe. The last of these tips is a simple one. Breath… In through the nose, and out through the mouth. Only the deepest of breathes. If you employ this technique with your kids, they are almost certain to do it wrong. So, prevent their hyper-ventilation and coach them through long slow breathes. Maintaining their physical health will help them mentally prepare for the gruelling first day. To do this, make sure they sleep an adequate amount; not just the night before, but the entire week leading up to it. This way they will be very energised and should not develop any anxiety. Maintaining a strong balanced diet will help in a similar way, so attempt to stay on top of this too.
These tips are useful to lessen the anxiety of the back to school week and prevent yourself from becoming the paranormal presence that you may have had when you were their age. For some it’s an exciting time, but we know all too well that for others, it’s something quite stressful and a cause of worry for the parent and most of all the child.
We wish you all the best for getting your little munchkins back to school.