School can sometimes be very stressful. It acts as a miniature society where all children spend a lot of time together between four walls. Education is not the only thing your little one is learning in school... they are also learning how to live in society! A day in school holds its fair share of changes and adjustments, which can sometimes be stressful for your child. Remember, it is your responsibility, as a parent, to keep your eyes wide open and notice when your child is feeling negative stress about school. If this is the case, you must intervene in order to prevent your child from truly developing school phobia!
Manifestations of stress or anxiety
- Crying every morning;
- Your child starts feeling pain before it is time to leave for school and stretches time in order to avoid leaving;
- Wetting the bed or having trouble falling asleep;
- Your child checks their backpack thirty-six times;
- Demonstrates a general lack of interest towards school;
- Makes up excuses or reasons not to go to school;
- Refuses to do homework
- Holds a very negative point of view on going to school.
Identify the source of the problem
As a parent, it is your job to figure out what is making your child uncomfortable at school. Are they being bullied? Were they recently involved in an unsettling event at school or at home? Is your child going through an uneasy situation (illness of another child, parents separating, new father-in-law, a new baby, etc.)?
Try to get an overall picture of what your child is going through at the moment. Afterward, try to validate changes that you have noticed in your little one. By knowing the cause of the problem, you can start working on finding solutions to fix the situation.
Questions to ask yourself
- Is your child going through the same anxiety as every other child?
- Is your child able to explain what they are feeling?
- When did this situation begin?
Your child may find it difficult to blend in with their new classroom or they could be going through a student-teacher conflict. If your child has been psychologically assaulted, it is important to contact the school and collaborate with them to react without delay. Try figuring out the source of the problem. Be very observant of your child and have an honest and open conversation with them but make sure that your questions do not sound like an interrogatory. If your child feels attacked, they will avoid the subject.
The importance of putting feelings into words...
Not feeling like going to school is normal. Most adults do not feel like going to work every single morning. However, it is important that your child is able to tag their emotions and to calmly speak about these feelings.
“I often speak to my daughter about the way I felt when I went to school. I talk to her about the anxiety I felt before an exam or the friends I had and even the arguments I went through with them. By doing so, I am letting her know that school makes us go through a whole range of emotions. As a result, my daughter feels like she is allowed to sometimes feel anxious or to find some schooldays less interesting, but she is also able to identify what she loves about school.” Patricia, mother of Flavie, 8 years old.
- Review your family routine. Is the whole family rushing every morning to get ready? Or do you feel like you are always out of time during the evening? How does your daily routine affect your children? Maybe, your child simply needs to feel less rushed in time. Try starting a new routine! It can be worthwhile to wake up 15 minutes earlier if it means being able to slow things down a little.
- Listen to your child without finishing their sentences and avoid interrupting with too many comments. Take time to reassure them.
- Try using relaxing techniques or different ways to increase your child’s self-esteem. Simple changes can help your child feel more confident.
- Use humor to lighten almost any situation. This can help to lessen tension and to give a nicer take on life!
- Imagine different situations with your child (they are being bullied at school during the break). Next, try elaborating a list of solutions and even ways to fight back with your child. Most importantly, use no censorship! Allow yourselves to be sometimes serious, sometimes goofy! By offering different ways to deal with the situation, your child will have the leisure to choose the solution that they find most appropriate for the situation.
- Make sure your child’s mind is worry free in order to be able to concentrate properly in school. If your child is dealing with negative emotions, whether at school or at home, it could have repercussions on their interest towards school.
- Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities according to their interests. This way, your child will feel esteemed for more than their academic results.
- Do not let a negative situation last forever. Do not hesitate to contact a school educator in order to seek help.
- Homework time should not exceed the time indicated by the teacher. Otherwise, this extra load of homework will only exacerbate the problem and your child will end up resisting homework time. In other words, it is better to do things differently, than to do more...
- Make sure to value all initiatives and efforts as much as the end result.
Problematic situations and express solutions
I set the bar up to high for my child.
When you are expecting the impossible or perfection from your child, it generates a great deal of stress. Your child will feel obligated to succeed in order to please his parents. Afterwards, if your child fails, he will be twice as disappointed. Dedramatize his mistakes and make sure to acknowledge his efforts!
“Everyone is better than me! ˮ
Make a list of all of your child’s qualities and talents. Work with your child to help him increase his self-esteem. Most importantly, make sure to regularly encourage your child!