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Back to school stress: How to avoid it

Back to school stress: How to avoid it
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Back to school stress is something most of us have faced at some point either in childhood or with our own children. ‘School days are the best days of your life’ – a phrase many of us have heard at one time or other and while some children love every minute of school, not every has the same experience and returning to school after holidays can cause high levels of stress or anxiety in children. Looking back to our own childhoods, no sooner had we ran out of the gates at the start of the 6 week summer holiday when all the ‘back to school’ signs for uniforms and stationary in shops were up, reminding us the holidays didn’t last forever.

Transitional periodsBack to school stress: How to avoid it

Young children often find transitional periods in schools when they move up into a new class or from primary into middle or senior school, particularly challenging. They will be in a new classroom, have a new teacher, a different locker or coat area, new children may be joining or the class might be splitting into different forms and they are worried about losing or starting new friendships.

As an adult we are used to handling situations like this, but children often find the smallest changes stressful. This can be reduced in several ways starting with communicating with your child. Be aware that when the time is approaching to return to school, they might be apprehensive so make time and start conversations about how they might be feeling and if there is anything they might be worried about?

Divert attention

You don’t want your child dwelling on worries or working themselves up so that when they do actually return, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Divert their attention away from school and plan fun activities in the school break. Try and save the best treats for last so that they have something to look forward to at the end of the holidays instead of getting anxious or depressed.

Get physical

Physical activities are great at alleviating stress and you might want to plan things with their school friends to prepare them for returning to school.

Get their mates round

Invite friends over to tea or out on trips and speak to other parents about arranging events with their school friends all together. Kids often focus on the things they don’t like about school rather than the things they do such as their mates, so remind them of their friendships and positive aspects.

Rehearse new routines

If your child is worried about a particular new routine, for example they might start catching the bus, walking to school or going to new after school clubs, try and practice the routine with them beforehand. Before holidays are over, spend a couple of mornings catching the bus with them or walking the route to school out, timing your journey and building their confidence so it isn’t a scary new experience to contend with on the first day of term.

Speak to themBack to school stress: How to avoid it

If you can’t practice, then ask what it is that is specifically troubling them and work out how to deal with their feelings. What is the worst that could happen? How would that make you feel? How would you deal with that? If they have a strategy planned for any unexpected situations they will feel more confident if such situations arise.

The back to school routine

Rules around sleep and waking up times are often relaxed in the school holidays and can be an abrupt change when term starts, so get into the school routine in plenty of time. Ensure bed times are adhered to and you start waking them around the time they would do normally for school so that when the big day is upon them, it will be second nature and not a shock to the system!

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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