MAKING BACK TO SCHOOL EASIER
As the summer months are beginning to wind down, we are all preparing to have our children go back to school. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made back to school a little different, it still comes with some challenges for each child. Many may feel extremely excited to be back around their peers, however; many children will also experience levels of anxiety, stress, or even fear, as they may have been away from an in-school setting for quite some time.
While this process can be stressful for parents, as they adapt to the new back to school model, it can also create global stress for children. As parents we may dismiss a lot of our child’s concerns, and simply let them know that they’ll be fine once they get back to school. Undoubtedly children are resilient and very capable of adapting to new environments, however; we can do a few things to make their lives easier moving forward. Here are some ways you can get a head start on getting your child feeling good about going back to school this year.
TALK TO THEM
The biggest thing you can do as a parent is talk to your child. When you provide them the opportunity to talk to you about their thoughts and feelings, it enables you to have a healthy dialogue where you can help them overcome any potential stress or anxiety they may be feeling. It also provides children with the comfort of knowing that their parents are both willing to listen and provide a safe environment to voice their concerns.
Be sure to ask them questions such as, “are you excited to go back to school?” “Do you have any concerns about going back to school?” “What are you looking forward to the most about going back to school?” “What are you looking forward to the least?”
While this process is incredible at getting the dialogue underway, it is equally beneficial at helping your child become mindful of their thoughts and feelings when they think about going back to school. We know that by first becoming mindful of our thoughts and feelings, we can then utilize tools or skills we need to help ourselves feel better. Therefore, your child can also use tools and skills to help themselves feel better, once they can identify what thoughts and feelings they have that are creating a negative response.
REMIND THEM OF THEIR TOOLS
Each child will have their own concerns, as it relates to the process of going back to school. While some may have anxiety about being around their peers, others may feel stressed about the academic rigors that they will face, and some could even be dreading spending so much time apart from you. Regardless of what they may be facing, there is a tool they can use and ultimately a skill they can develop to help them overcome these challenges.
If your child is feeling stress or anxiety, remind them of the multiple breathing techniques we have discussed in previous blogs. These breathing techniques include bubble breathing, belly breathing, dandelion breathing, and others. This would also be a good time to ensure that your child has a small time set aside to build meditation into their daily routine. Our previous blog on meditation gives you some tips and suggestions, and it does not require the child to meditate for more than a few minutes. However, as discussed previously meditation will lower your child’s levels of anxiety, stress, and provide them with positive physiological benefits that will leave them feeling calm and ultimately relaxed.
Another tool you should have them incorporate on a daily basis, is the use of affirmations to ensure their self talk is empowering and uplifting, as opposed to disempowering. Have them start by using affirmations which they already believe to be true about themselves, that make them feel good. Then you can ask them to come up with a positive affirmation as it relates to going back to school. By putting the onus on the child, the affirmations will be much more impactful, as they themselves will have created the affirmation, therefore they are much more likely to believe in the affirmation overtime.
THEY ARE NOT FIXED IN THEIR MIND
It is also important that you give yourself and your child a head start, by doing things on a daily basis that promote the development of a growth mindset within your child. When you are talking to them about going back to school, be sure to utilize the word yet as much as possible. If they are afraid that they will not be able to tackle a specific subject because it is too hard, remind them they simply do not know how to do it yet. If they still are having a hard time believing in this, remind them that previously there was something they were not capable of doing, however overtime they were able to do it. Depending on your child’s grade level they may not have been able to read at the beginning of the previous school year, however they may be able to read now. This is just one of many examples, but it helps your child realize that they are capable of further growth and development.
Also be sure to remind them that they are likely to face challenges, struggles, and potentially fail as they try to learn or do something new at school. Help them embrace that journey as a wonderful opportunity to learn. Remind them every time they feel like they are faced with a struggle or failure, they have a chance to learn something new. This learning opportunity could include trying a new methodology, looking to others to see what they may have done differently that could help, or it simply could be a chance to learn that they need to perhaps practice some fundamental skills first. Regardless, remind them that they are learning, and as a result they can feel confident knowing that ultimately they will achieve their goal. This will prepare them to persevere through their challenges, so they do not feel incapable of trying again. Besides isn’t school about learning anyway?
These are just some of the many things you can do to help your child have a smooth transition back to school. While many parents are excited to have their children back in school, most children will be as well. Remember, just because your child may feel some level of anxiety, stress, fear, or any other negative emotion associated with going back to school, that feeling does not have to define their experience going back. By getting a head start on it now, you can prepare your child, as well as yourself, for a smooth transition back to school this year!
Rachna Patel is the founder of OH-KS Corporation, a company that creates one-of-a-kind programs and materials, to help children ultimately become happy, healthy, confident, have a strong growth mindset, and so much more. To learn more about the latest products from OH-KS, you can visit their website at www.OH-KS.com