7 Back To School Stress Tips
No matter what their age, children are affected by stress, especially as the annual ‘Back to School’ season approaches. Parents have the ability to reduce a child’s stress, and thus will benefit accordingly. These seven tips can alleviate and ease your child’s anxiety, fears, worries and stress levels well ahead of the crazy scramble the day school starts, and during the first sensitive weeks.
Here are 7 Back to School stress tips for parents
1. Begin preparing your child for school at least a week beforehand.
Knowing what to expect, and being familiar with their surroundings boosts confidence, and provides reassurance and security for your child.
* Shopping together for uniforms, sports kit, groceries and school supplies
* Get them into their school-time sleeping routines
* Practise waking up and getting ready for school
* Take them to the new school helps familiarise their surroundings. Walk around the premises, find the toilets, tuck shop etc.
* If your child is already at school, review some of last year’s material or lessons
* Review the daily school routine i.e. wake up time, teacher’s name, timetable schedules, anticipated sports and extra murals, the time and location you will fetch them.
2. Prepare a ‘Must Know List’
Important to help a child feel safe and secure, and essential for a new teacher, school or day care centre. Your ‘must know’ list is for the school office, teacher or day care staff. This includes any allergies, dietary requirements, illnesses, medication, physical limitations etc plus emergency contact numbers. This list helps relieve your stress too.
3. Listen carefully and respectfully to children
Stressed children may start ‘playing up’, or displaying stressful symptoms ahead of starting school. If they feel they aren’t being heard, respected or supported this can exacerbate their stress levels exponentially. Encourage your child to share their feelings. If appropriate, share how you overcame fears when you were at school or in your job. Ask your child if they have any concerns or worries about school. Follow up their concerns by providing information, reassurance and problem solving assistance. Simple reassurance provides confidence, makes all the difference to the start of a new year, and family relationships benefit too.
4. Remind your child that you are there for them at all times
No matter how old a child is, constant loving reassurance and support is invaluable, and essential for bonding. Every day demonstrate love, give hugs and describe how much you care. This makes a positive difference to a child’s well being, and their behaviour too.
5. Beware of overloading children
The stressful pressures children are being subjected to today is unnecessary. When are children simply allowed to be children – to play and have fun? I applaud the Principal of a Cape school who abolished homework so children can have more play time. Beware of overloading your child with too many competitive activities. Sometimes the best stress remedy is to have quiet time, and occasionally doing nothing is also fine. Encourage non-competitive activities. Life’s richest lessons aren’t about winning or being a top achiever. Help your child develop a well rounded personality, including participating in community work, volunteering or hobbies. Get involved, and have fun with your child.
6. Maintain an optimistic outlook to inspire and motivate
Children emulate their parent’s behaviour and outlook on life. If you’re a positive motivator with an upbeat attitude, you inspire your children. Constantly being stressed and flapping about minor issues fuels insecurity and provides incorrect values. Monitor and manage your own stress levels so you don’t create more anxiety, stress and worry for your child.
7. Be mindful of what you say to your child
Does your vocabulary instil fear, or create positive reinforcement? Simply listen to your child talking to others; what do you hear them repeat? Children pick up stress management techniques from their parents. Be ‘cool as a cucumber’ under pressure rather than ‘lose your cool’, and further stress your child. Unresolved or continued stress affects children’s health and hampers their learning abilities, memory retention, concentration and focus at school. Wishing you and your family a stress-free ‘back to school’ season!
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