Does your child worry about going back to school or comes up with excuses to stay at home? Chances are that she may be experiencing ‘back-to-school anxiety’. Here are some tips to help your child.
By Suchitra Seethapathy
The summer vacation was coming to an end. Nine-year-old Minal, who had been cheerful and lively until then, began feeling agitated and worried. And, when the school re-opening day finally dawned, her home, which had been an abode of peace and tranquillity until the day before, now resembled a war zone. Her mom was busy preparing breakfast, packing her lunch box and issuing commands to Minal like, “Brush your teeth!”, “Eat your breakfast!”, “Tie your shoelaces!” and “Find your school belt!”
Minal tried her best to keep up with her mom’s instructions but it proved too much for her. Unable to take it any longer, she burst into tears and declared that she did not want to go to school.
So, what do you think happened to Minal, a happy-go-lucky child with a loving family, who had a great vacation visiting her grandparents, aunts and cousins?
Minal was experiencing what we call the ‘back-to-school anxiety’.
Children’s brains grow very fast and neuronal connections are established rapidly from birth until the age of 12 years. From the age of 12, children are constantly consolidating and integrating their learning experiences. These new experiences challenge children and adolescents to reach out and explore the world around them. This not only kindles their excitement but also has the potential to evoke anxiety. As a result, children tend to worry about a lot of things around them, including new teachers, friends, peer group acceptance and so on. After a long break, like a summer vacation, some children also feel worried at the prospect of staying away from home. They have irrational inner monologues which increase their apprehension. This can pose problems when it is time for children to restart school after the holidays. Some of the worries and apprehensions that arise in the minds of children at the thought of going back to school after a long break or in the new school year are:
Usually, children who are anxious tend to eat and sleep poorly; some may overeat and oversleep to cope with the increased level of stress. It is common for anxious children to tell lies and fabricate stories to escape responsibility. They are also prone to temper tantrums, emotional breakdowns, and engaging in behaviours such as nail biting and fidgeting.
For some children, the thought of going back to school after a vacation can be unpleasant and anxiety-provoking. So, they may display some of the behaviours mentioned above. If your child also suffers from back-to-school anxiety, here are 7 ways to help her deal with the issue:
Anxiety is normal in children and gets amplified during times of uncertainty or change. At such times, do not panic and begin judging your child, for she will get over her fears and return to normal soon. However, in case you think that your child’s fear of going back to school warrants professional help, do not hesitate in doing so.
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