After two years of on and off lockdowns, it’s understandable that some kids are feeling anxious about the return to face-to-face learning. Even us parents can dread being back in the office and giving up the relative sanctuary and solitude of working from home.
It’s so important to be mindful of your child’s mental health. In the first year of the pandemic alone, anxiety and depression cases increased by 25% worldwide, with children particularly affected.
With so many children already experiencing distress, parents are often faced with the heart-breaking sight of their child in tears begging not to go to school because they’re scared.
Back-to-school anxiety can be caused by many things. Your child could be worried about germs and their wellbeing, making new friends, bullies, their academic performance or simply being overwhelmed by crowds and too much social stimuli.
Watch for signs of anxiety
Some signs your child might be anxious about going to school might be obvious, but others can be harder to spot. Things to look out for include:
• Separation anxiety
• Difficulty concentrating
• Trouble sleeping
• Lack of concentration
• Panic attacks
• Upset tummy
• Changes in appetite
• Avoiding everything for fear of germs
• Decreased performance at school
• Social withdrawal / spending time alone
• Mood swings
Help kids feel confident again
The pandemic is far from over, so how can we help kids overcome their anxiety and feel more comfortable at school?
Show them how it’s done: Kids tend to copy what they see. Showing your child that you’re calm and positive about returning to the office can be reassuring and may help them feel the same way about school.
Get grounded: A grounding exercise is a fantastic way to calm an anxious child by getting them out of their thoughts and focussing on what’s around them.
Stay prepared: We can’t always control what happens in the world, but we can control how we react to it. If your child is anxious about germs, creating a little kit with hand sanitiser and a mask to pop in their school bag might help them feel more in control over their own safety.
Keep in touch: Knowing you’re just a call or text away can be comforting for kids and parents alike. A Spacetalk smartwatch can keep your child connected and even has a school friendly mode to keep them focussed in class.
Have a morning routine: The predictability of a morning routine can help anxious kids start their day in a calm, positive way. A healthy breakfast and positive affirmations can help create calm and confidence right before the school day.
Back to school anxiety can be scary for kids and challenging for parents but with a little preparation and a lot of patience, we can help make their return to school a more positive experience.
Where to seek help
If you are concerned about your child’s anxiety, we recommend getting touch with these organisations who are experts at helping young minds stay healthier.
Mental Health UK