Sunday, September 7, 2008

Children's "Return to School" Anxiety

It has happened for hundreds of years and will continue until the end of time. Kids of all ages will be struggling at this time of year as they return from summer break and enter their own personal workforce: School.

And with this reentry, for many, will come immense pressure, stress and anxiety.

New schools, new teachers, new classmates, and for some everything will be entirely new.

One of my clients came to me the other day extremely stressed as her child was not fitting in at the new middle school. After just 1 week, the child refused to go to any of her classes. The kids were not nice. The teacher too demanding. The homework too intense.

So, how can parents deal with their children's anxiety?

The biggest mistake we make is to try and solve the stress for our children.

Phrases like "It's ok honey, things will get better, you just hang in there" like saying "I really don't want to hear your pain, your stress ....can you just not talk about it dear?"

We think we're doing the best thing by trying to alleviate their fear, yet it is actually the worst thing a parent can do.

Students at every grade level, from kindergarten to senior high will face their own personal hurdles, and the best thing a parent can do is to listen...and ask questions that can help their child to alleviate some of their fears.

"Can you tell me what is bothering you? Can you share what is making you feel afraid to return to class? "

By continuing to ask questions, even if at first it doesn't seem to be creating any solution, your child will begin to feel that you truly do care. That you want to listen. And do just that, simply listen, with no need to give answers. Just listen.

If they are too young to actually tap into their fears, ask them to draw how they feel.

Continue to ask questions, day after day...and just listen. Hold them if they cry. But do not shut them down. Even if it's hard to hear their pain, hang in there and listen.

While it may take a little time to get them to open up, once they do, they'll begin to feel better too.

Ask the teachers, counselors and other member's of the school staff for help if it is needed, but do not solve your child's problems for them.

Slow Down, have faith.

Learn to let your children express themselves.

Love, Peace, David Essel.

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