What can I do about School Anxiety?
Initiating conversations with your child or young person around school anxiety can be difficult, but some good conversation starters can be open questions such as “How are you feeling about starting school?”, Are you thinking about what school might be like this year?”,… Followed up with -”It can help to talk about it”.
Emotion coaching your child or young person is important to enable feelings to be named and explored. This may mean making an observation such as “You look like you feel worried/sad/angry/upset. Is that right? “If the answer is yes, then you can follow that up with a question about what the worry/sadness/anger is about.
It’s important then to acknowledge these worries by saying something like” I can see why you feel that way” but follow that up with some ideas around resolving them by saying “Have you got any ideas about what you could do to stop those feelings…let me know if you need help coming up with a plan.”
Developing self understanding in your child or young person can be encouraged by asking questions that help them to look beneath their level of understanding so questions like “What has made you feel that way? or “ Why did you make that choice?” This can have your child or young person begin to think about what the underlying cause of their anxiety and then develop the ability to respond to what is going on.
Sometimes talking about expected feelings can help so asking your child or young person if they expect to feel nervous/worried when they start or return to school can be followed up with “How do you think you’ll manage that?” and then..”If you do start feeling worried, what is something you can do to make yourself feel better?”
Remember that your goal as a parent is to help your children put together the puzzle that is feelings and past experiences and develop skills to give them some control over them which in turn will lower their anxiety.