The recent pandemic has caused an interruption in our usual way of life — in the areas of business, education, travel, etc. Every person, young or old, has been affected one way or another. Children are also feeling these effects.
Now that the ban has been lifted for children in both public and international schools in Penang, it’s best to get ready earlier. Certainly, some kids will be excited while others will feel anxious or even frightened.
In fact, it’s entirely reasonable for a child to get anxious about returning to school, especially after staying for such a long time at home. Luckily, there are ways you can get your child excited about school again.
For example, try to talk to them as often as possible about school. Talk about fun memories with teachers they usually talked about or those funny moments with their friends they always talked about. Doing this will get them enthused again about going back to school.
Here are five ways to help ease back-to-school anxiety among children.
Nobody copes well when they’re tired or hungry. Anxious children tend to forget about food. They don’t feel hungry or get enough sleep. Therefore, keep an eye on your child, and provide frequent and nutritious meals for them.
Also, ensure that you build in regular routines so that life is more predictable for your child. The routines can be morning and bedtime habits, as well as eating schedules.
Encourage your child and let them know that what they feel is normal and that everybody feels the same way. Tell them that after a few days, the anxiety will stop.
For instance, say something like, “Hey, chief! I understand how you feel because I feel the same way. And it’s okay to feel that way, but after a couple of days, you’ll feel so much better about school. I promise.”
Reduce their access to the news because sometimes, the story isn’t encouraging, which can make them even more anxious and scared. Social media broadcast messages can also make the situation worse for your kid.
So exercise parental control over their devices, and the kind of content they can access. Tell your child that not all the news making around social media is right and that they should always get their facts from reputable sources.
Some of this anxiety can be reduced with a little, controlled exposure. For example, take your child out for walks or a trip to the supermarket. If possible, organise a meet and greet session for your child and one friend or two at the park.
Also, you can drop them off at the school by yourself for a few days before they go back to using the school bus. This will help make them feel relaxed and less anxious.
Try as hard as you can to redirect your child’s thoughts away from worries, and towards positive thoughts. Ask them engaging questions that can trigger a positive response, like, “what fun activity did you enjoy most in school”? “Do you have friends who tell lots of jokes”? “Which of their jokes were the funniest”?
Children tend to associate positive thoughts with happy moments. Therefore, to get the best result, feed them their favourite meal as you engage them in these discussions. The excess worry may be as a result of merely overlooking the positive side of things.
Finally, it is crucial to revisit social distancing rules and good hygiene practices. Tell them to cough into their bent elbow, wear their nose mask often, especially when talking with a friend, wash their hands, and sanitise regularly.