Anxiety and School :: How We Ease Into the First Days of the School Year
It’s that time of year again! Freshly pressed uniforms, new school supplies, the feel of a routine again in the air. The beginning of a new school year is always exciting but for a child with anxiety, this is also a very stressful time. My oldest is entering 4th grade this year; I still cannot believe I’m saying 4th grade! With every new year, we are presented with new challenges and with that new fears. Who will my teachers be? Will I have friends in my class? These are only a few of the hundreds of questions going through any student’s head. These may seem like normal fears, but for a child with anxiety, these fears can take over. In order to make the start of a new school year begin a little smoother for her, we make sure to do the following things.
We never make her feel bad for her anxiety. Anxiety is a part of who she is and instead of trying to change her, we try to help her manage it better. When she needs to cry, we let her cry. Sometimes all she needs to have a good cry and get all of the anxious feelings out. I can totally relate to that. Who doesn’t need a good cry every now and then?
If your school allows students to visit the classroom and meet the teacher before the first day, then do it! Our school allows their students to meet their teachers, see the classrooms and find their desk the week before school starts. Also, we get a class list the week before. This way on her first day she knows exactly where to go and what faces she will see. I pray every year that she will have a friend or two in her class, but if she doesn’t this gives us time to prepare and motivate her.
Another change for her this year is her uniform. She will no longer wear her jumper that she has worn the last three years (please stop growing!). We have to prepare her for this change. Some children with anxiety develop clothing sensitivity. This is one of the main clues that alerted us of her anxiety. Unfortunately for us, her new uniform is stiff and she hates it. So the next few weeks, I will wash and wash it again until it’s soft. Then I will ask her to try it on so she will begin to feel comfortable with it. This is an important step for her as we do not need her panicking about her new uniform on the first day of school.
A little bit of home
I am a big fan of essential oils. If you are too, then put a dab of your child’s favorite oil on their collar or wrist. My daughter loves for me to put calming oils like lavender on her before school. They put her at ease, and she can smell a little bit of home while at school. I also put a note of encouragement or two in her pencil pouch and lunch kit the first week.
Lastly, we always plan a surprise for her at the end of the first day. It could be small toy or eating at her favorite restaurant. This gives her something to look forward to after a long first day. I encourage parents to help make the summer to school year a smooth transition. Make it fun, do what works for your family and help them not stress.
Cheers to another school year!