Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Managing School Anxiety

Labor Day has come and gone but not the anxiety that your child feels this time of year! There is that late August stress that a child feels with all the new routines of the school year. But everyone looks forward to the break of Labor Day. One last hurrah of summer. Then it's over! The routine must begin and it will continue for a long time before another day off is on the calendar. Post Labor Day can be ugly. Real ugly! It is often seen with a child's whining.

The whining may sound like any of these.

  • "I hate school. "
  • "I don't want to go!"
  • "I can't do it."
  • It's too hard."
  • "Please, don't make me go."
  • "I'm not going."

There are times to understand that this child is pressed to his outer limits and that another plan is best. That is the unique response. In most cases, the tough love approach works best. It goes some thing like this...."I know you aren't excited about going back to school but it's what you have to do." "But I can't!" "You can, but you don't want to do it. That's understandable. It's more fun to hang out at home! I get that but school is part of life and YOU are doing fine. You will do great this week. I am here to help and so is your teacher. If you get overwhelmed just ask one of us for some help."

What just happened in this conversation? The adult acknowledges that what the child must do is hard for him. It is out of his comfort zone. He may need some confidence that he can really do this. Lack of confidence may be a big factor in a child's 'pushback' after a break in routine. This child must be gently pushed to do hard things. He needs to know if he must step out of his comfort zone in this way, there will be the support he needs to be successful.

Managing this "back in the routine" anxiety takes a lot of wisdom from a parent or caregiver. It is important to see these situations from an anxiety perspective and not from an obedience or non compliance point of view. A punishment is rarely the answer. Encouragement and understanding go along way. There needs to be a standard that is required. This child must go to school but he needs the support behind him to know if he falls down, there will be someone there to pick him up.

I would like to hear how others handle this situation.