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How’s the anxiety level now that school is back

Student carrying their books.

By April Murphy

On the 27th of January, Queensland school-aged students return to their learning environments. For some parents, the question lingers: “is my child feeling anxious about going back to school?”

Like everyone, 2020 was an unfamiliar year for children. Their daily life at school was interrupted by COVID-19. Restrictions were put in place, no more parent drop-offs, learning from home was introduced, and the routine behind sanitising was implemented, to name a few. With the UK strain of coronavirus in our midst, the new habits are not set to change.

Returning to school or starting for the first time can already twist children’s emotions, but adding the ongoing pandemic to the mix can be a lot for the little ones to deal with.

Queensland schools are preparing for the students’ return, and many are helping to alleviate any anxiousness that might be looming.

St Edwards Catholic School has sent out starting packs to their new prep students. The package includes a calming poem for mum or dad to read to their child the night before school. Seeds Early Learning Centre sent home tiny worry dolls to help the worries go away.

Beyond Blue offers a list of key indicators that can help you identify if your son or daughter feels anxious. Some examples are:

• Pre-schoolers might start to show fear of being on their own and of the dark;

• School-age children might be afraid of supernatural things (like ghosts), social situations, failure, criticism or tests, and physical harm or threat.

On the Beyond Blue website, you can also find some helpful tips to deal with the anxiety.

• Acknowledge your child’s fear – don’t dismiss or ignore it.
•Gently encourage your child to do things they’re anxious about but don’t push them to face situations they don’t want to meet.
•Wait until your child actually gets anxious before you step in to help.
•Praise your child for doing something they’re anxious about, rather than criticising them for being afraid.
•Avoid labelling your child as ‘shy’ or ‘anxious’.

The organisation “Raising Children” states that is entirely normal for your child to feel anxious about returning to school and to seek professional help if you think the anxiety is affecting your child’s health or happiness.

“Head to Health” offer digital mental health resources from service provides. These resources aid in helping childing suffering from anxiety.

Other possible avenues to seek help are:

Your child’s school councillor
Your child’s doctor
Heads Space
Kids Help Line

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