Next week most schools are back for the year and I’ve noticed that there’s a bit of a shift happening in many households at the moment. We’re all creeping back closer to school starting and so our language may be changing with our kids, things like “we’ll need to start to get you to bed earlier soon so that you’re ready for when school goes back” or “you’ll need to try on your uniform so that we can see what still fits and what you need before school goes back”.
These simple little statements that we throw into our everyday vocab without a second thought, can more often than not create little bubbles of anxiety or nervousness in our kids. They suddenly start to think about the fact that they will have a new teacher, new classroom, not be at home anymore during the daytime and whatever other stresses may come along with being back at school.
As a mother of a very anxious little person, and a Kinesiologist who sees a lot of children in regards to school stresses, I thought that it might be helpful to share some of the things that I have found help when you’re getting your children prepared for heading back to school.
- Start the Conversation Now: sometimes we can avoid discussing things with our children that may make them anxious or upset, like the thought of heading back to school, until it’s time. There is definitely an argument towards not dragging out events that are unavoidable and adding to the stress, however it’s good to give kids and opportunity to express how they are feeling and work though those feelings with you before the day arrives.
You can start with just sitting down on a quiet afternoon (try to avoid night time as you don’t want it on their mind before they are heading to bed) and chatting to them about how they are feeling. Questions like “what are you most excited about in going back to school?” or “what is something fun that we did on the holidays that you can share on your first day back at school?” will help to keep it positive and light and broach the subject in a gentle way.
- Remind them of the Positives: if you have a child that is particularly not happy about heading back to school, then sit down on your own in some quiet time and write out a list of things that you know have been positive for them that you can share with them. Some examples may be things like;
- If they love art, and you can remind them of all the fantastic creative fun things they can create when they’re back at school.
- They may have a special friend that they haven’t seen in the holidays, remind them that they’ll get to see their friend every day and play together.
- Perhaps they love a special treat in their lunchbox, remind them that they’ll be getting a special surprise on the first day that you can pack for them.
- Maybe your child loves to read, you could remind them of the fantastic books that are at school that they’ll get to read once they’re back.
- Some children love their sports, you could remind them of all the different sports that they’ll be learning this year as part of their sports program.There are many, many more examples of this but it’s just a few ideas to get your mind ticking. Sometimes when we’re feeling anxious or nervous we tend to be a bit ‘glass half empty’ mindset so if you’re able to provide some positive experiences that they can reflect on that will help greatly.
- Ensure they are getting enough sleep: this is a big one. During the school holidays we can tend to be a bit flexible on bedtimes and routines as children can sleep in during the mornings unless they have to be up for school holiday programs. There are a lot of kids that have very late bedtimes and also struggle to fall asleep as easily due to the fact that they are not being as stimulated during the day. Take a mental note yourself on what time your child is going to bed, and what time they would normally be going to be bed during the school term. If there is a large discrepancy in that time, then make a plan to slowly bring it back to the ideal sleep time over the next week.
You can start by getting them to bed 15-20mins early each night without them noticing and explain that it’s fine if they’re not tired, they can read in bed or just lay there and rest. The important thing is that they are in bed, relaxing and winding down at a better time each night. This will help make their moods less extreme and therefore hopefully reduce the anxiety about returning to school. We all know how important a good nights sleep is and how much better you feel after you’ve had enough sleep!
- Do not dismiss their fears: I know that I can be guilty of this one myself sometimes, as it’s easy to be dismissive of the things that they may be afraid of when they’re heading back to school. Saying things like “don’t be silly of course you’ll make new friends” or “stop being so upset you have nothing to be worried about, you’ll love it when you’re there” are actually not very helpful to someone that’s feeling really stressed. Instead it makes them feel like they need to dig their heels in and plead their case to you on why things indeed ARE as bad as what they think!
Another thing to try when you’re in this situation is to help them work through what they are afraid of, tackle it head on with them and get them to reason out the logic behind their fears, for example if they are afraid they won’t make friends you could ask them have they ever made new friends before (assuming they have) and how did they make those friends? If you’re in a position where they are not great at making friends you could ask them how they think they could speak to someone they don’t know yet, discussing prompting questions they could use like “what did you do on your holidays?” or “who do you go for in the AFL/Basketball?” etc these kind of discussions can help to give them some tools to use.
- Visit the school or friends: if they are primary school aged children you can take them down to school and let them have a play on the playground, even for high schoolers making a subtle drive past their high school would be a great way to get them familiar with their environment again. If you’re local to the school then perhaps go for a walk and walk around where the school is, or shop at the shopping centre that’s near there. Anything to get them familiar with seeing school again will be helpful in reducing their anxiety levels.
Another great idea is to set up a playdate with a school friend, just meeting up at a local park or similar will allow them a chance to connect, chat, play and feel comfortable around that person again. Even our closest friends start to feel a little distant after we’ve had week and weeks of holidays, this will help to connect them again and feel much more safe heading back to school.
- Natural remedies: I absolutely love natural remedies and they are my go-to for most issues we face in our home. I am lucky enough to be a Kinesiologist so I will muscle test what crystals, oils etc we need and then we use whatever tests up. There are however a few favourites that I have that can help with anxiety, they are;
- Amethyst Crystal – it’s great for calming down the nervous system and any sort of emotional energy. It’s fantastic for bringing balance to the brain and assisting with obsessive thinking and is also great for helping to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
- Rose Quartz Crystal – this beautiful gentle crystal is such a great all-rounder and is all about self-love. It is also particularly helpful for dealing with anxiety, stress, fears and helps bring a gentleness and softness back into our energy.
- Essential Oils – some of my favourites for diffusing around the house during times of stress are Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile, Jasmine and Marjoram.
- Hold the ESR points – there are two points on our forehead that are called Emotional Stress Release (ESR) points that if very gently held assist to bring the blood back to the front of our brain. This means that we are more present in the now and able to focus on new ideas and solutions to our worries. I find that I often hold these points on my daughters’ head without her even realising when she’s very anxious or upset and I use them many, many times a week in clinic with my clients. The diagram below illustrates where they are located on your head, and remember it’s the very lightest of touch, the less pressure the better.
Image: Google Images
- Clearing Spray – I swear by our clearing spray and we use it everywhere in our house! I use the Clearing Spray from By The Bay Kinesiology and it’s amazing. You simply mist it over the head and it helps to clear any sort of emotions that you are wanting to let go of and assists in bringing balance again. I also use it in my daughter’s bedroom to help keep her space clear and fresh and not carry over some of her worries from the day prior.
So that is my hints and tips on helping your little ones in the lead up to school starting back next week, I truly hope that you’ve found at least one little nugget in there that you can either pass onto someone that may need it or to use yourself.
It’s such a big time of the year for both parents and children and anxiety and worry are all very normal emotions to experience leading up to periods of change. Be gentle with yourself and your little ones and remember that you’re not in this alone. If you need some help in supporting your child’s transition please feel free to reach out to me and we can chat about how a Kinesiology session can help you both.