8 Tips on How to Help Your Child with School Anxiety

So, the time has come – we are heading back into the schoolyard. Is your child (or even you) feeling anxious about going back to school?

While the prospect of kids going back to school might certainly be a time of inner celebration for many parents, the truth is this will be another huge transition for our kids.

As a child behaviour expert and educator with over 20 years’ experience in education, I know that the anxiety children face when going (back) to school is a very real thing.

Chrissie Davies And Child Playing

After pretty much being wild and free for the past month or more, we are getting ready to be back in the educational structure and routines of attending school regularly. More many of us, this includes a couple of epic adjustments!

Here are my tips on how to reduce school anxiety and support the emotional health of anxious children.

How to help your child ease back into the school routine

1. Reassure your child

You may have kids who are super excited about starting or returning to school, but I am fairly sure that there will also be lots of kids filled with trepidation and sadness about leaving the safety of the family nest that they have grown accustomed to.

My overarching tip is to remember that with this upheaval your children are going to need you to be their safe place and trusted adult that supports them through this big return.

Reassure your child. Be calm, be empathetic and be present.

Chrissie Davies reading book with children in bed

2. Prepare your children for any changes

Make sure you explain your school’s guidelines with your kids ahead of time, and then with daily reminders.

Any changes may cause some unrest and confusion for our children. Be patient. Give longer hugs in the morning and try not to rush your drop-offs.

Talk to the teachers, but also talk about the teachers with your kids, so they begin to feel a sense of familiarity and ease.

Man And Child Hugging

3. Make an effort to reconnect with familiar faces

Friendships can be complicated for children. Children who have been apart for weeks may take some time to get reacquainted with each other again.

Why not organise a run around on the local oval one afternoon after school to give your children a chance to rebuild the connections that have no doubt been lost with some of their friends. If you are up to it, I highly recommend a play date or two to establish those bonds.

Adult With Girl Smiling

4. Expect your child’s behaviour to regress

This is not a given – but there may be more tantrums, angry outburst, tiredness, and complaints from your kids as a result of going back to school.

Children might need extra support with getting dressed and organised. They may have trouble sleeping or complain of feeling sick. There may be increased clinginess and separation anxiety. You may even encounter a reluctance to attend to school or outright school refusal (again, or for the first time).

Try to be patient and have a genuine understanding of how challenging this can be for kids. Listen with empathy, but do not try to problem-solve or offer solutions for our kids.

A big part of children learning resilience is being able to overcome their fears and challenges, whilst being supported by an empathetic and emotionally present parent.

Chrissie Davies playing with children

5. Do a drive by

Plan a walk or drive by this weekend to your school to allow your kids to see their school again. We even ride past our school sometimes and we all sing out at the top of our lungs “Hello School – we miss you!”

Boy Sitting At School Desk

6. Create a countdown chart

Give your kids the opportunity to cross off the days as they count down to their return. Having something visual and tangible is helpful for kids to understand what is coming.

7. Be positive and calm

If we speak positively about the return to school, it is more likely our kids will feel the same way. Children feed so closely off our energy and attitude.

Talk about all the things your family have missed about being at school. 

Be mindful of the way you speak about educators and school management; they are all doing their best and are often under extreme pressure too.

Teacher With Children

8. Be kind

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Kindness goes a long way.

Teach it, expect it, and model it.

Girl Hugging Brother

While the world continues to advance, I am personally excited for our kids. Their school communities and educators are such a huge and important part of their life. In families lives.

More than that, it shows that we are slowly moving forward following one of the biggest world game changers that was the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that really is something to be excited about!

Chrissie Davies Chaos To Calm Consultancy

Hailed as ‘The Child Charmer’ Chrissie Davies brings a heart centred approach to all her services.  Chaos to Calm consultancy exists to empower parents to create a whole new generation of emotionally healthy families.  She believes that understanding the causes of challenging behaviour is the first step to making lasting change. Working with Chrissie allows parents to view their child’s behaviour through a different lens. Chrissie understands the power of connection and communication and knows that with the right support families can confidently calm the chaos.

Chrissie is also a mama of two young children so has genuine empathy and understanding about the challenges that many families face.

You can connect with Chrissie via Chaos to Calm Consultancy Facebook and Chaos to Calm Instagram.

You can also enrol in Calm Connected KIDS, Chrissie’s four-week self-paced online course for parents who want to raise kids who thrive from the inside out. During the course, Chrissie shares all of her knowledge centred around the importance of using emotional engagement and positive communication to teach children about to behave positively.

For more resources for going back to school have a look at:

My Daily Visual Schedule

Big Life Journal Review: Best Growth Mindset products for kids

Best mindfulness apps for kids

How to Build a positive relationship with your child’s teacher

School Anxiety
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I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Get my awesome weekly newsletter in your inbox every week to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!

About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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