New School Anxiety: How To Help Your Child Deal With It
Changing schools is often a regular reality for kids whose parents’ nature of work forces them to change locations frequently. But along with the physical toll moving, children are left with an intense anxiety of changing schools, leaving old friends behind and making new acquaintances in an unknown environment. Seemab Zakir, a mother who has been there, done that, tells her how you can help your children deal with the stress
By Seemab Zakir
Owing to my husband’s nature of work, changing cities and moving to new environments after short intervals of time has become a routine. While it is quite taxing on our family to move abodes time after time, the moving especially takes an emotional toll on my seven-year-old. Not only does the child have to cope with new environment, she also has the job of going through the arduous task of socializing over and over again everytime she moves into a new school. During the last three years she has had to change three schools, the result being that she gets the jitters almost always before joining a new educational setting. But through trial and error, and some luck, I have found a working formula that works well to ease the child’s anxiousness. So, whether your kid is nervous about going to a new school or has a general anxiety about rejoining the school after a long break, you will find these handy tips extremely useful. Here we go…
Listen To The Fears of Your Child
Feeling heard and validated are essential human needs. And they are very much pronounced when we consider children. Your child’s concerns about school might look silly to you, but you cannot, and should not, ignore them. You need to go through the process of listening and then validating her feelings. All you need to do is to converse with your child in a friendly manner and you will have an insight into his or her mind.Once you will listen to her concerns with compassion, finding a solution will become easier. For example, your child might say something like, “I don’t like going to school. I have no friends there.”Curb the urge to ease his/her sense of loss by saying something like, “You will make new ones don’t worry.” (Remember, your job is to listen and validate). Or you can try, “Oh! That must feel really bad, right?”
You can relate your own experiences to make her/him feel better. Something like, “I felt the same when I was young, but I always found new friends everywhere I went. You will, too, don’t worry.Try talking him or her out of the rut by asking what does he or she think can be done about i. The more you engage your child in conversation, the more he or she will pour hidden apprehensions out. And as you might have experienced in adult life, talking about problems does help to e the nervousness that they cause. You can also take measures like visiting the school beforehand to let your child be aware of the surroundings. Let him or her meet teachers and potential class mates. The objective is to make the transition process smooth for your child, and listening him or her out is a good way to begin making the child comfortable.
Teach Her To Use Deep Breathing
Our breathing has a direct relationship with our emotional states. We breathe rapidly when we are anxious or scared and we breathe slowly when we are relaxed. The best thing about our breathing is that if you change your breathing pattern you can change how you feel. Teach your child to use slow, deep breathing to her advantage whenever he/she feels anxious. Even 5-10 slow breaths are enough to bring a person in a calmer state.
Use The Power of Affirmation
Our beliefs about ourselves, life, and our environment are part of our subconscious minds. Research has proven that human behavior is largely dependent on the programming of their subconscious mind. In the first seven years of life, human subconscious mind is in a hypnotic state, meaning accepts whatever it is exposed to, as it sees it. So, your child will accept whatever you will tell her up to seven years and it will be a part of their belief system forever. You can use positive affirmations to boost self-esteem and self-confidence of your child during and beyond the seven-year mark.
The following method is recommended by famous write Louise Hay. Daily, ask your child to face a mirror, look into her eyes and say something like:
- I am happy.
- I am smart.
- I am confident.
- I am beautiful.
- I am hardworking
- I am helpful
- I am respectful, and so on.
You can add or subtract affirmations according to your choice and need.
Help The child Visualize An Ideal Day At School
Have you ever visualized something hurtful from the past, like the passing away of a loved one? When you visualize such an incident you start feeling sad and might even shed a tear. Have you ever wondered why? It is because a human body cannot differentiate between imagination and reality when it comes to strong emotions. Whatever will play on your mental screen, either memory or visualization of the future, will have an effect on your body. Before sleeping, ask your child to visualize a perfect day at school from start to finish. Help her visualize if the child is too young to visualize on her own. This visualization will not only help her feel positive about school it will actually improve her school days. As Wayne Dyer has very rightly said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Intervene When Necessary
If your child has persistent issues with the thought of going to school and the aforementioned tips are not helping then you need to intervene. Visit the school, discuss with the teacher, and meet with the management. You may also look into consulting a professional like a child psychologist or a pediatrician because your child might be suffering from childhood anxiety and the feeling must be must be nipped in the bud before it consumes the child’s personality.