Mother and child on the way to school

Is school making your child anxious?

A new school term brings about excitement for both children and parents, but it can also be stressful. New classmates, new teachers, or maybe a new school, are all factors that can lead to anxiety in your child. They may try to avoid going to school, have frequent bouts of crying, or sudden temperament changes. And if your kids are stressed—chances are you’d be stressed as well. Here are five things you can do to resolve your child’s school anxiety, as recommended by three educators we spoke to.

Step 1: Ease it out

Father and son enjoying a relaxing moment at the park

Every child is different. Some may find it hard to express themselves, or fear being scolded. Others might react to the unfamiliar environment by making noise or being fidgety.

According to the educators we consulted, a majority of school anxiety boils down to three main reasons – unable to keep up with the lessons, social issues with peers, and a sense of apprehension with new, unfamiliar teachers.

Try to overcome this by spending leisurely time together in a nice familiar setting, perhaps over a weekend, when the memory of school is a bit distant from your child. Talk to them when they are feeling relaxed. Avoid vague questions like “Are you enjoying school?”, but instead offer directed ones such as “What is your new teacher like?” Guide and encourage them with follow-up questions.

Listen patiently and withhold any judgment. Be assuring – show your concern generously, let them know that their worries are real, and that you are proud of them for speaking up.

Step 2: Worry Wall and Optimism Wall

Young girl painting something colourful while her mother looks on

Once your child has opened up with reasons for their school anxiety, you’re now better equipped to help your child manage. One way might be to create a ‘Worry Wall’. Have your child to write down (or draw out) each worry about school he has onto sticky notes, then paste them on a wall. Then, review the notes together and talk out how each anxiety could be resolved.

Next to the ‘Worry Wall’, create a similar ‘Optimism Wall’. For every ‘Worry Note’, encourage your child to create another one, writing or drawing a hope or dream, or his favourite, happy moments. You can also contribute by adding on with notes of your resolutions, expectations or suggestions to your child’s worries.

Finally, strip off the notes on the ‘Worry Wall’ side together with the child, leaving the positive ones up. Allow your child to visualise that no worry lasts forever, and share with him that he can overcome these in order to move forward.

Step 3: Learn play and role-play

Two young girls participating in a role-playing activity

School can be scary for young children. Educators suggest having dry-runs of school days, where you walk through what goes on in a typical day before the start of the term to familiarise your child with the new surroundings and routines. Be sure to approach the school administration to get permission beforehand.

You can also get other family members to role-play, acting out a day in school. Have them play the parts of bossy classmates, fierce teachers, or even the discipline master. Guide them through the process, and positive responses in each scenario. This way, the child will increase in confidence in dealing with different situations.

Step 4: Let them feel grown up

Guide your kids on how to make good decisions so that they can learn to be responsible for their actions

As they make progress in overcoming their anxiety, you could encourage them with a little reward. Give them a budget and let them choose what they’d like. Guide them towards purchases that have an educational element, so that they can learn something of value while they play. Giving them a stake in their own decisions will allow them to feel grown up while learning to be responsible with money.

Step 5: Be a role model

You, the parent, are the biggest role model for your child. Your attitude towards things, your behaviour, your speech pattern, can all be impressed on your little ones.

So look out for your own anxieties. If you display signs of being worried about them going to school, fussing over minute details, or being overly protective, they too will feel uncomfortable and may unconsciously be learning self-helplessness. Keep up a positive spirit and practise self-awareness to be the best parent you can be!

Planning ahead for their future

A young graduate thanking her mother for putting her through university

We know the one thing that is always on the minds of parents is the increasingly high costs of education—school fees, enrichment programme fees, sending the kids to a good university, etc. To be adequately prepared, start a savings fund for your child as early as possible. Setting aside and investing a regular amount each month allows you to take advantage of long term compounding interest gains, allowing you to be assured of the future.

Should you like to talk to us about managing your family’s finances, especially on saving for your child’s learning journey, make an appointment to speak with our wealth planning advisors today.

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