Often with transitions comes anxiety and worry. It’s normal for a child to feel worried about going back to school. Questions may sound like this: What if my teacher doesn’t like me? What if I miss the bus? What if my friends don’t talk to me? What if I don’t know anyone at lunch? Who is my teacher? What if she’s mean? What if something happens to mom while I’m at school?
Extreme fear may lead to not wanting to go to school. Avoidance of school only increases the anxiety and makes it harder for the child to attend. When a child stays home from school it reinforces that there is something to be worried about. A child may even resort to throwing a tantrum in order to convince parents that staying home is a good idea. It is very upsetting when a child or teen is having a tantrum. Parents often feel exhausted and helpless. They wonder whether or not to send their child, thinking that tomorrow won’t be as bad. However, anxiety gets bigger when the child avoids school, so tomorrow will not be better. It may actually be worse.
Here are several ways parents can help:
A partnership between parents and child is crucial to be successful in challenging worry. We can’t “fix" when our children are worried, and rescuing them and avoiding the scary situation's only make worry take a stronger hold. We need to listen to what they feel and work together with them on confronting their fears.
ROSE LAPIERE, LPC, RPT-S, ACS