Scared About Going Back to School? Worries, Advice & Getting Help
Posted by: Sue Atkins
In this episode:
Scared About Going Back to School? Worries, Advice & Getting Help
Scared about Going Back to School?
Things to keep in mind:
One size will not fit all
Different children within the same class will have very different experiences of the pandemic. They will also have varying levels of coping skills and resilience in dealing with those experiences. Having an open mind about what your child may be going through and how they will be coping with it will be important.
You are part of a team
Your family team, your school team – keep working together LISTENING, watching and supporting your child. Watch how YOU speak about the ‘next’ normal – answer their questions, check in on them regularly, eat with them to get a measure of how they are doing – it’s a good barometer.
Don’t dismiss concerning behaviour.
A significant change in mood that lasts longer than a few days. Signs may include low energy, withdrawal from social contact with friends, difficulty concentrating in lessons, being tearful. Nightmares with little ones.
A significant change in weight – either increase or decrease – as appetite is often affected by mental health struggles.
Tiredness lasting for more than a few days – may indicate changes in sleep patterns which can be linked to mental health concerns.
Angry outbursts that seem out of character.
Secretive behaviour, for example around mealtimes or PE lessons. You might notice signs that the young person is avoiding their body ‘being seen’ in a way that is unusual for them.
Any signs of self-harming behaviour e.g. visible signs of cutting or bruising on the skin.
Learning might have to wait
Your child may not feel able to learn at the same pace as they have done before, and may show disruptive behaviour at home or at school. Be patient and work together to support them.
Attachments have been disrupted.
Children and young people may have experienced disrupted attachments as a result of measures put in place during the pandemic – separation from parents and grandparents, for example. Attachment is a concept that we often think of in relation to infants, but it is relevant throughout our lives. Even older pupils have attachment relationships with key adults in their lives, as well as their friends and peers. If these relationships are strained, disrupted or suspended completely, children and young people will likely experience a level of emotional distress. They may be more anxious or clingy or worried when you go out – so reassure, speak positively and be patient.
It may sound like dramatic language to use, but the coronavirus situation has been a shared experience of trauma for communities as well as for individuals. There is a need to process and understand exactly what has happened, to grieve the losses that the community has experienced, and to work together to find a way to move forward.
Here’s Sue’s Article 👉 Sue Atkins Tips for Children Returning to School After Lock Down
Although they’re a normal part of childhood, temper tantrums can be stressful.
Here’s my advice to help 👉 Temper Tantrums
Due to the pandemic your child may be picking up on your family tension and negative vibes so watch what you’re saying but more importantly watch your body language and unconscious messages your 3-year-old may be picking up.
Tantrums are a normal part of your child’s development. They’re how young children show that they’re upset or frustrated.
Young children don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves yet in words & full sentences.
Tantrums may happen when your toddler is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable.
They can have a meltdown because they can’t get something (like a toy) or can’t what they want. Learning to deal with frustration is a skill that children gain over time.
Here is a gentle, not mocking, look at some of the meltdowns some parents have experienced when their toddler lost it.
You’re not alone & no it’s not rational!
Be kind, be patient & be reassuring after the tantrum – their strong emotions can scare your little one sometimes.
Notice the triggers to when they happen as that can really help pre-empt them or prevent them from happening in the first place.
Stay calm, name the emotion – ‘I can see you’re feeling scared, angry, fed up waiting …..’ and absorb their strong emotion and then say something helpful.
If you feel that their tantrums are born out of frustration, then you need to display empathy and use these outbursts as an opportunity to bond with your child, offering assistance, patience, and understanding. Use soothing and comforting language to appease and reduce their frustration. If they’re getting frustrated at not being able to complete a task, then help them out and make it easier for them to manage what they’re trying to achieve.
Olive tells the story about a miniature dachshund who needs looking after for the day and is booked into The Little Paws Hotel. She is worried about her owner not being there but soon realises, with help from her friends, that she can get through the challenges she faces.
Theodore is calm, but everyone else in his family isn’t! In a time of stress and anxiety, Theodore shows his family ways he’s learned to stay calm.
A book to help kids overcome anxiety and stressful situations.
Books to help grown-ups have difficult conversations with little people.
The book What’s Wrong Arty? is a helpful book that indulges children who are facing mental health issues into adventurous therapy. It’s an essential guide for parents and therapists to encourage their children to talk about things that worry them. The book provides an introduction to the everyday problems faced by the children.
As a new wave of emotional wellbeing books for children hits the market, meet Clare Shaw, an author of therapeutic stories covering tricky subjects such as bereavement.
Clare writes from her own family experiences, her first book Sometimes: My Daddy’s Gone Away with Work, was borne from her husband being deployed overseas for six months and a need to help her children. Love Will Never Die: Helping children through bereavement and ‘At Times I Get These Feelings:’ all helping children with their emotions
The story of Tam and Hetty clearly gives the reader an understanding of the many responses we have when we are afraid, confused or scared, beautifully written and illustrated and is a joy to read for young people, parents, and professionals.
The Mind Monsters is a series of children’s mental health books, published to help children understand and cope with severe anxiety.
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