Getting back to normal…

Children were off school for the best part of 6 months. Returning to school or starting school for the first time was probably and may still be an anxious time for any child, going back after such a long period of being at home. They might be asked to do things differently and there may be local lockdowns which could mean extra periods of time off school which will be when the back to school anxiety starts all over again.
Five top tips to help
There are a few extra steps we can take to help ease the for what will be a fairly slow transition back for them.
Talking about it openly
Talk about the topic of school openly and keep asking about how they might be feeling. They are likely to have a whole host of emotions about it and we can help by aiding them to acknowledge them all, including the anxiety.
Getting the basics in
This means eating well, sleeping well, drinking enough water and getting some exercise. Can you make some tweaks to what your family is doing with some meal planning or a family walk after school and work? Getting them involved in the planning can help get them on board.
Promoting other ways to reduce anxiety
Anxiety reducing activities such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and grounding techniques can be helpful and you can use Google to find child-friendly versions of these. Practice them together.
Cuddle buttons
Both draw a heart or similar on your hands (or stitch an X inside their sleeve) and hold them together in the morning to ‘charge them up’. During the day if they need a cuddle they can press their button and you will both feel it. It is important you review at the end of the day if you both used it as this allows them a chance to talk about how they are feeling with you.
Anxiety on returning to school is normal and to be expected. If the anxiety is more significant, leading to panic attacks, sleep problems or getting in the way of their daily life – it may be helpful to seek some professional support.
You can approach your GP to access this through the NHS or you can choose to use a private provider and pay for this yourself.

Dr Claire Leonard
Chartered Clinical Psychologist
A more detailed version of this article is available at
www.enhancingfutures.co.uk/blog/