It is no longer just a simple shift in daily routine. Going back to school has become a stress-filled, angst-ridden season of fear, anxiety, confusion and sometimes depression for children of all ages. Cherry Hill Family Clinic values the quality of education available to Columbia’s children and wants to offer some advice for parents of students, all ages, who may be apprehensive about returning to the classroom.
- Talk about school and what the changes in the daily routine will look like when school starts.
- Ask your child what their feelings are about school and do not dismiss them. Empathy goes a long way in helping a child understand that they are not the only one who is fearful. Open up and relate some of your own fears, but end on the conversation on a positive note of resolution. “I will be here for you when you get home and I can’t wait to hear about your day. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad, I’m proud of you for trying.”
- Practice relaxation techniques with your child as part of a bedtime routine. Simply sitting with them and stoking their hair or rubbing their back relieves over-stimulation brought on by the day, and it’s a good time to connect and talk to your child.
- Talk to your child. Talk to them about what they are doing at school. Become emersed in what they are learning; do not overshadow their enthusiasm with your own. For example, if they are reading a book about a pigeon, take them to the park to feed the pigeons one afternoon. Relate the experiences in the classroom to their lives outside of school.
- Do not make home an extension of school. If your child is struggling in an area and needs a tutor, find a place outside of the home and school for them to meet. Columbia offers a wonderful place called The Workstation where you can rent desk space in a quiet, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable area. Consider doing that to keep home as their refuge.
- Establish a night-time and morning routine WITH your child’s input. Ask them if they’d rather brush their teeth before you read with them or after. Ask them if they’d like a breakfast they can take with them or if they want to sit down with you and your family to eat breakfast. Allowing them input over what the departure routines look like helps them feel empowered about where they are going for the day.
- Don’t be afraid to try some essential oils in a diffuser to help them relax at night and wake up in the morning. Lavender, jasmine, and ylang ylang are perfect scents for calming down and relaxing. In the morning, lemon, eucalyptus or peppermint will wake them up with their bouncy, resilient tones. If that works, consider purchasing an essential oil bracelet for them to wear to school. The bracelet is like a locket that holds a scented pad that they can smell when they feel nervous. A mixture of rosemary and peppermint or calendula with eucalyptus are both perfect for energizing and calming.
- Listen to your child with the intent of advising, not fixing. As parents, we want to clear the way ahead for our children, but they need to know that they are independent of us and can take control of a situation if they have to. Of course, if they are being harmed physically or emotionally, consider intervention. But speaking words of empowerment to your child, telling them they are strong and they can be strong goes a long way in helping their confidence and calming their reluctance.
- Do not bargain with your child or bribe them to go to school. This will lead to the power of manipulation and children learn that particular skill more quickly than we give them credit for. School is non-negotiable for them, just as work is non-negotiable for you. Their reward for going is learning and becoming smarter. Place value on those traits, not on things. That being said, there is nothing wrong with a Friday ritual of ice-cream or an iced-coffee to celebrate the week being over.
If you have concerns that your children may need a higher level of intervention, please contact Cherry Hill Clinic and we will help you evaluate the situation and make the right decision for your family. We are a family practice that puts family first, and we want to put your family first.