Helping your child cope with worries about school
Children can find different aspects of school life very stressful – starting a new class, a new school, moving away from their friends. They may be displaying classic signs of anxiety but would you know how to recognise them? Here I share my experience of helping my daughter deal with her worries.
It started when she was in Primary school around the age of 6
She would be very teary, complaining of a poorly belly and feeling sick. I didn’t know at the time but these are typical signs of anxiety.
Over a period of time things got better with help, however if I just known the signs of anxiety and poor mental health, I could have put things in place a lot quicker.
We finally had an answer!
With trips to and from the doctors we were eventually put in touch with CAHMS. Another 12 months went by and she was diagnosed with autism which made a lot of sense to us both. With this diagnosis we had a lot of answers to why she felt anxious. I was onto the right path knowing how to cope with an anxious child.
Another reason for her anxieties around the age of 8was thather familiar teacher went on maternity leave, and she had a series of supply teachers until the summer. This didn’t help with her routine, and I found a few other children felt anxious with not knowing what was happening next. A simple message to the parents to inform the children what teacher they had before arriving for school would have helped of the children’s mental health.
High School was Looming!
Fast track to year 6, the age of 11 years old. On Monday 14th June, she had a teacher come to her school to introduce her to her high school. She went through the dos and don’ts, what to expect, and went through the life of being a high school student. There were also opportunities for her and the other students to ask questions.
My daughter finds it hard to explain her feelings and typically it can be hours or days later that she will reveal how she is really feeling. That same evening at bed time, at 21:15 she came down all upset, I could clearly see something was bothering her.
What happened next…
As a mental health first aider, I knew that it was important to stay calm, and patient. Inside I was getting annoyed that it was well past her bedtime and she needed to be up early the next morning. I asked her what was bothering her, and she explained how worried she felt about going to high school. She went onto say that she thought she would have no friends, people would bully her, she would be all alone and have no one to walk with her. The time was getting on and it was nearly 10 o’clock when she finally was at ease and felt more relaxed and able to go to sleep.
This conversation prompted me to put a few things in place to help her to cope better. The first thing I did was ask her everything that was bothering her. Next, I got a piece of paper and wrote everything down, but next to them I wrote how and what we could do to resolve the problems. I reassured her I would be there for her, and that the first day of starting high school I would support her. Being calm and not coming across agitated helped massively. The other suggestion I proposed was, why don’t I ring up the high school and explain your worries and see if we could possibly have a tour of the school: being in lockdown we couldn’t have this opportunity the previous September/October.
Once we went through these two steps, I gave her a massive hug and reminded her how strong she is. I gave her a pen and paper to take to bed with her so if she had any other worries in the night she could ‘brain dump’ them onto the paper and we would address them in the morning. To my amazement that piece of paper was blank the next morning.
In our household, I make it clear that a problem shared is a problem solved. Talking about mental health reduces the stigma and reduces the signs and symptoms. Understanding the signs will decrease mental health becoming a problem.
By taking the time to really listen to my daughter and understand her concerns I was able to put in place some simple measures that have made a world of difference. Now she is happier about going to school and we no longer have as many days when she is complaining of feeling poorly or making other excuses not to go.
Mental Health Courses for Children
At HMB Training we have created a course specifically for parents who are worried about their child’s mental health. Is your Child suffering with High School Anxieties? Stop The Worry Within A Week! (Even if you believe that’s impossible right now). To join this course or find out more please click the following link:
Mental Health Tools
Having tools in place helped us massively. I brought notepads to support her symptoms, the two online shops I used are Spiffy and The Mind Post.
Here is a notepad what we use so she can write her worries down. We love this simple resource; it makes her think what can she do to help herself and make the worry better.
This is great tool to encourage to think about the positives. As humans we dwell on the negatives. If we tune into what we are grateful for will help massively to boost our well-being.
To help with worries, this is a perfect note pad from ‘The Mind Post Post’. Jot the worry down, and forget about it!
The Mind Post also sell subscription boxes, we love these as it brings us happiness when we open it every month!
Read more about our Mental Health Courses here: https://www.hmbtrainingservices.co.uk/latest-news/offer/faa-level-1-mental-health-first-aid-rqf
If you would like to talk to us about your child’s worries, we are always here to help.
Contact us on 01543 453338 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org