Back to School Worries
We are now into the new school year and whilst some families breathe a sigh of relief that the holidays are over, others experience a worrying time.
It’s great when our children look forward to school (or at least tolerate it), but for some children it is a painful time. Some children do not enjoy school life and may struggle physically, academically or socially. They may need some adjustments or extra support to thrive in the school environment.
For families it can be a daily struggle when a child really does not want to go to school. There can be tears, tantrums, refusal to get out of bed in the mornings and meltdowns during the evening.
If you are a parent who is worried about your child, what can be done to make things easier?
The first thing is to try and understand what it is your child is struggling with.
Is the school work too tricky, too easy?
Does your child find friendships difficult?
Are they tired, are they going to sleep early enough?
Does your child struggle with the noise, the hustle and bustle in the corridors, the scratchy uniform?
Do they get anxious about the routine, timetable changes, a new classroom?
Do they know who they can go to in school if they have a problem?
Usually your child will be able to tell you exactly what the problem is and then you can discuss the issue with the class teacher or pastoral lead within the school. However not all children can tell you as they are not sure exactly what the problem is themselves. Instead they may be feeling generally anxious a lot of the time. Also it’s worth considering that they may not want to tell you what is wrong, which is sometimes the case with teens.
It may take a little bit of work to get to the root cause of your child’s worries. Allowing your child time to talk to you when they are ready can be helpful.
You can also request a meeting with school to explore what is happening with your child.
Some things you might like to discuss in the meeting:
Does my child mix with their peer group, do they have friends in school?
Do the teachers have any concerns about my child?
Is my child meeting their academic expectations?
Are there any clubs or activities my child can become involved with that they might enjoy?
What support can you offer my child?
Often a meeting with the teacher will be enough to turn things around for your child, but sometimes the issues can be more complex. It is important to keep communication between yourselves, your child and the school open so the right support is put in place. This may come from the Pastoral Team, School Nurse, Counsellor, Youth Worker or Educational Psychologist.
As a parent, you know your child best. Trust your instinct and, if you are worried, ask for help. Observe your child for changes in their behaviour that indicates they are struggling to cope. It’s important to look out for persistent low mood, changes in appetite (over-eating, loss of appetite), poor sleep, sleeping too much, withdrawal from friends and family, a lack of ‘get-up-and-go’ and self-harm. These may indicate your child needs help from a professional and it is advised that you discuss these changes with your child’s GP in the first instance.