Do you See Changes In Your Child?
Now that school is underway, you may have noticed some pretty big changes in your child. Are they moody or irritable? Perhaps they are eating a lot more, or a lot less, than usual? Do you notice they are tired all the time? Additionally, are they complaining that they hate school? Rest assured, these issues are all normal…to some extent. Going back to school is a major life event, even if they typically enjoy school. They are going through big changes…new teachers, different classrooms, higher expectations, a new circle of friends. What they were comfortable with and enjoyed at the end of last school year may not be the situation that they are facing on a daily basis this time around.
What Can You Do?
What can you do as a parent? Be patient, be positive, keep them on a regular schedule, and assure them that you are there to support them. Instead of asking them, “how was school today?”, try something like, “what made you feel proud or happy today?”, or “what is one significant thing you saw/heard/experienced?” Chances are, you will see your child settle in and complain less in the next few weeks as they get a new rhythm going.
When Should You Worry?
When should you worry that it isn’t just normal back to school jitters? It depends. You know your child, and you need to listen to your instincts. If they are regularly asking to stay home because of a stomach ache, cry about school, or seem truly fearful or continuously worried, it may be more than just the usual beginning of school stress that most children experience. It could be anxiety or depression that they need someone else to guide them through. This doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent, it means you simply have to explore other options to get your child the help they need to be successful.
Never hesitate to reach out to your child’s school counselor or a therapist that specializes in dealing with school aged children and teens. They are equipped to guide your child in the right direction and get your family back on the right track.
Karen Hummel, The Hive Counseling Collective