By Dr Samra Tahir –
Clinical Psychologist at the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology
As the summer comes to an end, it’s time to prepare your child to head back to school. During this transition, it’s not uncommon for some students to experience mixed emotions about jumping back into the school-day routine and leaving behind the fun, stress-free days of summer. Many children tend to stress out because of various factors: a new environment, a new teacher, a new syllabus and greater learning expectations.
Back to school time is always a big transition, whether your child is excited or anxious, there are many things parents can do to help make the transition as stress-free as possible. Dr Samra Tahir – Clinical Psychologist at the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology tells us how:
1. Get back into a school day routine – A few weeks prior to the new academic year, parents need to keep their children busy with a mix of physical and academic stimulation activities. Children should be given a set routine for each day so that the transition is not too exhausting and overwhelming.
2. Focus on the positive aspects –
- Emphasize the positive aspects of the return to school, such as, meeting old friends again, making new friends, playing during breaks, etc.
- Distract and redirect the child’s attention towards the positive factors of returning to the classroom. Thus, when a child becomes irritable and refuses to go to school, it is recommended to automatically change the topic. For example, ask them what they played in the playground, the name of his/her desk partner, if there are new children in the class, etc.
Parents need to show a lot of empathy and support in order to boost a child’s confidence. A push in the right direction with guidance and adult supervision is of great importance.
3. Let your child make decisions – Parents should include the child in the decision-making process so he/she does not feel totally out of control. Letting your child make decisions about things such as what to wear, what stationary to buy, and what to have for breakfast can give your child a sense of control.
4. Do a trial run – It would be useful to visit the school with your child. Show your child the classrooms, the cafeteria and the bathrooms. Practice the walk or drive to school.
5. Set a good example – It is important that parents serve as an example to children. We must not forget that children take cues from their parents, so if they see their role models are adapting quickly and positively to their daily lives, it will be easier for the children too.