Every child feels anxious before they go back to school. It’s a natural feeling which often comes from a fear of something new. Once they have actually been to school therefore, you would expect their anxiety to disappear. So what can you do if your child is still feeling anxious even when they have done a few days back at school?
I am going to share a secret here. Shh don’t tell anyone. When I was a teacher, at the end of the summer holiday, I felt incredibly anxious about going back to school!! Every year I wondered why I got so nervous because by the end of my first lesson my anxiety had disappeared. Yes, even teachers feel anxious!
It’s so difficult to watch your child suffer when they are feeling anxious so what can you do?
1. Take Time Out in Nature – Mother Nature is amazing at smoothing away anxious feelings. Have you ever hugged a tree? I know you may think it is a crazy thing to do, but try it, when no one is watching of course! Can you feel a cool, calming energy run through your body? What can your child feel? You may be surprised at their response. Whether you are brave enough to hug a tree in public or not, taking your children out side for a walk or to play in the park is a great way to ease anxiety.
2 Focus on the Feeling of Anxiety – I know this sounds strange but as the saying goes ‘what you resist persists’. By asking some inquiring questions about the anxiety you will get your child to step back from their feelings. The sort of questions I ask are:-
(i) Where in your body is the feeling?
(ii) If it was a colour what colour would it be?
(iii) If it was a shape what shape would it be?
(iv) What size is the shape?
(v) If it was an animal what animal would it be?
I hope you get the idea about the sort of questions to ask. You’ll find that the intensity of the anxiety begins to fall the more questions you ask. Use a scale of 1 to 10 to evaluate what level their anxiety is at before and after you ask the question. If you don’t get down to a level 1 or 2 at the first attempt ask some more questions, or even ask the same questions again.
3. Find out Why They Feel Anxious – Now to be honest you may not be able to ask this directly without your child closing down. So make time to listen at the end of every school day. Even if it is only for 10 minutes per day, choose to give your child your undivided attention. Don’t ask a closed question such as….
“Have you had a good day at school today?”
You are likely to get a yes/no answer. Instead ask an open ended question such as…
What was the best thing you learned today?
Who was the kindest to you today and why?
What did you enjoy the most at school today?
What did you enjoy the least at school today?
The time you spend asking these questions and listening to your child’s answers will give them the confidence to share their joys and their fears with you and will help you to discover any problems that may be causing your child’s anxiety.
I am sure some of you already have some great questions to ask your children. What is your favourite question to ask at the end of the school day?