Going back to school can bring an array of emotions, one of which can be anxiety. When I was a child I had terrible anxiety when it was time to go back to school. Looking back I didn’t realize how many major, and minor instances, fed into my anxiety which I never voiced to my parents. I wish I knew more about my condition to better handle the stressors that accompanied a new year of school. Unfortunately, some children have anxiety about things they won’t voice to their parents. Here are some things to think about that may bring anxiety to your kids:
- The First Day: The first day of school can carry stress that stem from what can seem like minor occurrences. For example, what seat you get in class, what teacher you’ll get, are your friends are in the same class, are there new people, who are you going to sit with at lunch, are you going to picked last for kickball? All these unknowns result in stress and that’s just on the first day.
- The Bathroom: Raising your hand to go to the bathroom with the chance of being denied can be very stressful; especially if your child has a teacher with strict rules on bathroom breaks. Not everyone is able to take care of their business at recess so even during your child’s lunch break, they might have stress if they can’t go and know that their teacher is inflexible with bathroom breaks. And forget about what kind of stress or trauma would occur should your child wet their pants. That could result in anxiety for a very long time thereafter.
- New Bedtime Schedule: Getting enough sleep, especially when insomnia looms, can cause major stress for a child. Summer is over and a firm routine sets in, and even though your child may have had a set bedtime schedule, the stressors of a new schedule will show its ugly face.
- Grades: Making straight A’s and/or maintaining a GPA in a new grade or in a new school can cause anxiety that can be ongoing on a daily basis. Taking that first test, or completing that first homework assignment and “starting off on the right foot” fuels anxiety. Be sensitive to the changes your child inevitably faces. With all the pressure on children to get high grades these days, having compassion and being sensitive to how grades affect their mood along with all the other pressures of growing up.
Try to ask different questions. “How was your day?” Is not going to cut it. Ask your child who they had lunch with? Where is their seat in class?