Going Back to School Worries!

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With back-to-school being right around the corner, I have had an influx of worries and anxieties filling my office.  Children worry about being liked, having friends, if their teacher will be mean, if they will do something and be made fun of, etc.  Anxiety and nervousness for the first day of school is a typical feeling.  When these worries fill your child’s brain and seem to take over, it becomes a problem.

We often want to help and save our kids.  We find ourselves in situations like this:

Johnny: “Mom I’m so scared to go to school, what if someone bullies me?”

Mom: “Johnny, you’ll be fine, you have so many friends.  You are going to have a great day.”

When we do this, we let anxiety grow.  Anxiety is there in the back of Johnny’s head saying, “But what if you aren’t fine? What if your friends are mean? What if you have no friends in your class? What if that bully is mean to you?”  Reassurance feels right in the moment, but anxiety’s job is to convince your child that they can’t handle it, whatever “it” is.  In order to help decrease anxiety we need to listen to our child’s worries and help them come up with solutions or how they can handle situations.  Here are a few examples:

Johnny: “Mom I’m so scared to go to school, what if someone bullies me?”

Mom: “Hmm, that would be hard.  It’s hard when people hurt our feelings.  What can you do if you feel like someone does that?”

Johnny: “I don’t know!”

Mom: “Well, you could tell the person, “Stop I don’t like when you say things like that.” What else could you do?”

Johnny: “Maybe tell someone?”

Mom: “Yes, you could talk to your teacher, or your guidance counselor.  You saw your guidance counselor last year so you know her.”

 

Suzie: “Mom what if I trip and fall and everyone looks at me?”

Mom: “If that happened that would be hard.  That would hurt and you would feel like you are not sure what to do.  What could you do if you fell and everyone was looking at you?”

Suzie: “Ignore them?”

Mom: “Yes, you might be able to do that.  You could tell everyone you are ok or go to the nurse if you need to.”

Suzie: “Yeah, and my friends would probably make sure I was ok.”

Mom: “You are right, because if your friend fell, you would make sure they are ok too.”

When we have these types of conversations with our children and their worries we arm them with solutions and possibilities of handling the situation.  This allows our children to be prepared for when anxiety comes back up and tries to ask, “What if ___ and you can’t handle it?”  Our child then can respond with a solution or way of handling it which helps to ease their worries.  Each of us feels that anxiety about not being able to handle things sometimes, but when situations happen we all handle it.  Remind your child, “You can handle this!”

Wishing you all well with back-to-school season approaching!

Heather

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