7 tips to help anxious children go back to school

If your child is feeling anxious about going back to school, some of those ideas may help make things easier for you all. School anxiety is a ‘thing’.

“Separation anxiety and school anxiety have absolutely nothing to do with behaviour, defiance or poor parenting. Nothing at all.” Karen Young

Going back to school for the last term can bring lots of anxiety about the academic year ahead. Knowing that the transition to the next year group isn’t far away, and that soon they may find out who their teacher is can often make children feel a bit uncertain about what will come next. My daughter has been talking about who her teacher might be for next year all day, and I can tell it’s effecting how she feels.

Anyway, back to the tip. I’ve based these ideas on what has worked for my daughter, don’t worry if they don’t work for your child. Go gently with them.

  • Acknowledge how they feel. When they say ‘I really don’t want to go back to school’ you can reply with comments like, ‘I know you find the first day back hard, I hear you’, or ‘I know you don’t sweetheart’, or just a simple ‘I know’. Leave a pause after those statements to allow your children to process that you have acknowledged how they are feeling.
  • Plan something fun to do after school; a trip to the park, an ice cream, playing their favourite game etc. you could also plan something for the weekend so they have something to look forward to or work towards.
  • Get up a little bit earlier on the first day back so you both have plenty of time to get ready. There’s nothing worse than rushing when you’re already upset about going to school.
  • Play a little game – ask your child to write down (or share) three to five things they like about school. You could do the same for your work, or your time while your child is at school. Talking about the things we like will release those feel good chemicals and get your child thinking about school in a positive way.
  • Introduce your children to affirmations. Giving them the power to use their inner voice positively can really help during anxious times. Introduce your child to some words/ statements they can use when school anxiety takes over. You might like to try, ‘I can do this’, ‘I will be ok when I get there’, ‘we are going to the park after school’, ‘it’s only five days until the weekend’, ‘it’s only 7 weeks until we break up again’. Errm, maybe not that last one, it sounds like SUCH a long time. Seven week terms should be banned!

Not sure how to help build your little one’s confidence up? Some of these books may help.

  • Let them know all the details about the day ahead. How you’re getting to school the next day, who will be picking them up, what they may be doing that day e.g PE, music, swimming or art etc.
  • Teach your child a simple breathing technique. Practice this technique when your child feels calm and happy. Ask them to breathe in through their nose to the count of three, and then breathing out slowly through their mouth to the count of three.

You may also find this sweet trick helpful.

If your child’s school anxiety persists and you feel it’s something you need extra help with. There are some fantastic tips on the young minds website here.

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  1. I have seen the anxiety of Primary aged children first hand in my classroom. Two and half years ago I decided to do something about. I knew there was a need for a new type of schooling. My wife and I are now in a position to help.

    In September we open a small primary school (four pupils) for children in North Worcestershire. We are offering: NO homework; NO Sats; a choice of topics; lessons in the local forest; regular visits to a care farm and friendly pets in the classroom. All this is free if your child already has or can get an EHCP.

    If you want to know more our web site is https://wribbenhallschool.co.uk or email ewells@wribbenhallschool.co.uk

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