Back To School Anxiety: Get Ready Early!

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From students to parents to school faculty, the end of summer means a new wave of anxiety for the new school year. Although we still have a month left, it is important to start thinking about back-to-school anxiety now. This blog will focus on what it means to be anxious about starting something new and how spotting this anxiety early on can help students cope with the newness.

Back To School

During the rise of COVID and at-home schooling, it became relatively easy for children to become comfortable in their environment, where they didn’t have to worry about making friends on personal levels or deal with social interaction for eight hours a day. Because of this, children who were transitioned from at-home learning to in-person classes understandably had a difficult time comprehending and reacting to interactive school days. For many children, the summer has been a relief for them, though anxiety levels will skyrocket again at the thought of having to reintroduce themselves back into “everyday” life, and this may be what’s making them hesitant about the new school year.

Why Would School Be Scary?

It’s a simple question with many complicated answers.

Every child has their reaction to the beginning of a new school year, but those reactions are likely skewed for children who are already predisposed to being on the anxious side. From a parent’s perspective, children should be happy that there is a sort of normalcy back in their lives after two months of summer.

However, from the perspective of an anxious or introverted child, this push back to normalcy may be causing them stress in areas that adults may not realize. For example, if your child is naturally shy and prefers the comfort of their personal space, after two months, moving back to the learning environment where it is encouraged to either speak in front of the class or be paired in groups may cause distress in their nervous system. Ultimately, this leads to your child not being able to properly learn the material because they are trying their best to constantly regulate their fight or flight responses throughout the school day.

How To Help Your Anxious Child

Although every parent wishes that they could be there for their child during a stressful event, the reality is that a child being able to regulate their emotions and reactions is a huge step towards being independent and self-reliant. No child should have to face hardship alone, but when they can overcome their fear and take steps to better their situation through awareness and grounding techniques, then they are more likely to know how to handle themselves appropriately in future obstacles.

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can provide tools for your child to rely on if they ever find themselves in a position of anxiety, stress, or fear in their school day. It is essential you and your child know how to respond to anxiety in effective ways, which our anxiety experts can help with.

In the meantime, here are some tricks that you can teach your child and have them practice through the rest of the summer so they can use them if they find themselves feeling overstimulated during their school day:

  • Simple Breathing Technique: Teaching simple techniques like the 4-7-8 or short breath followed by a long breath will help your child tell the alarm system in their brain that they are safe.
  • Grounding Technique: A favourite tool is the countdown method. List 5 things they can see, 4 things they can physically feel, 3 things they hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste (like water). This is a super simple way for children to self-soothe and ground themselves back in the present moment.
  • Communication Technique: Simply being verbal about their over-stimulation or anxiety can make all the difference in the guidance or help that their teacher or friends around them can offer. Being open about their anxiety will show them that vulnerability can be a superpower for getting the right help when you need it.

Start The School Year Right

Whether your child is a true introvert or the class social butterfly, there will likely be times this school year when they feel overwhelmed and anxious. When those times come, make sure that they are prepared with the tools they need to master their learning and themselves! If you need some help or advice on how to prepare your child’s emotional needs for the school year, please reach out to Koru Psychology so that we can ensure your child has a fulfilling year.