Now that school is underway, does your child struggle with wanting to go? You are not alone! Here’s one mom’s story and what you can do to help your little one get in the swing.
Today’s Guest Post by Amie Butchko
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This is the mantra I live with as a mother of three children, all very different and beautiful in their own ways, all with their unique challenges, ambitions and fears. Truthfully, sometimes just getting through to sun down with thin smiles at bedtime is the greatest achievement we can hope for – and a blessing for which I thank God at the end of our busy and emotional days. Each, a finish line of its own.
When Your Child Has Anxiety
My third son, Nicholas, suffers from both allergies and very real levels of anxiety. He becomes easily overwhelmed and can make himself sick when he becomes nervous about going to school, or even extra-curricular activities. Some days, just getting him to and from is an achievement worthy of accolade. I have spent many a disappointed moment realizing that I was “duped” by my son, yet again, his hives the product of nerves rather than a histamine culprit; our attendance record what I consider to be my shame as a parent in our school system. Only I truly know, however – Nick and I that is – what a great accomplishment our days attended truly are.
Going to School and Activities Can Be Hard
Anxiety can be a very real thing for children, and as well, quite upsetting to parents as we must often watch from the sidelines, helping them sort through the struggles as best we can, but knowing life will ultimately be our child’s journey to travel.
However, throughout the last several years I have learned many things. One important one being that building my child’s confidence in school can be of great help when going to school is hard. This is the short list of what helped me get Nick to school (and on our good days, liking it) this year, should it help some other parent out there, too!
Ways to Build Your Child’s Confidence in the Classroom:
1. Help Them Feel Prepared – If your child has anxiety about going to school, you can help him/her feel more confident by ensuring they are prepared for their day. By having homework done, understood and ready to be handed in as well as being in sync with whatever is on the calendar, you can help your child feel empowered against worry, fostering a feeling of security toward what the day might bring. For example, if it is pajama day, make sure your child loves what he/she has selected to wear; if it is show-and-tell, make sure your child has an item to share; if it is state testing, make sure your child has had lots of sleep, a great breakfast and has plenty of number 2 pencils. Feeling ready is a good feeling.
2. Put Focus on The Good – If your child is anxious about leaving you or about social interactions at school, but loves gym, art or a certain subject, talk up the parts of the day that they like in advance. This will help them focus on things they have to look forward to at school. Don’t verbally draw attention to areas your child struggles in. Let those work themselves out with time and practice.
3. Let Them Shine – If your child is good at soccer, likes gymnastics or even enjoys playing video games for leisure, give them some time during the day to do things that they simply enjoy and feel successful in; something in which they feel they shine. “You are so great at math,” can be words of encouragement that instill a bit of subtle knowledge in your child that he/she does have capabilities to succeed, even if school-related things might seem scary at times. This will build confidence and self-esteem that will make going to school -and liking themselves there – a lot easier.
4. Reinforce Academics – If your child struggles in academics, or finds reading, writing or math hard, have them reinforce their skills through play-like activities when home. For example, encourage games that use school skills, like playing grocery store, waitress or using sidewalk chalk. Or as an alternative, utilize one of the many great online learnings sites available for academic skill-building today. Examples of some good ones are Funbrain.com, Essential Skills Advantage, or even Sesamestreet.com.
5. Build Friendships – Building friendships within your child’s classroom can be a great incentive for going to school. Schedule some play dates with children your child likes. If there are some classmates that are overwhelming to your child, or seem to be bullying your child, let the teacher know so he/she can help manage that problem for your child.
6. Support the Teacher – Stay in touch with your child’s teacher and communicate your fears and worries about your child’s anxieties to him or her. Teachers have experience and expertise and can be your best advocate toward helping your child handle their school stresses. Try not to micromanage your child in school and let the teacher take over once your child is in their care.
7. Give and Take (Breaks) – Sometimes kids just need a break. Make sure that if school is mentally hard for your child, he/she has areas of life that are fun and relaxing as well. Do not overschedule your child with more activities that he/she doesn’t enjoy or want to go to. School is not a variable, but other things can be.
8. Grow Faith in a Higher Power – If you are a faithful person, teach this faith to your child. Letting your child know that there is a greater power watching over him/her can be so empowering. Let your child know that you as well, are taking care of your child and that grown-ups would never send them to places that are unsafe or not good for them (school). Teach your child how to pray. This will be a skill that will help them manage fears and feel safe not just in the now, but throughout their lifetime.
Author Bio: Amie Butchko is a freelance writer, wife and mother of three writing out of Warwick, NY. She writes on topics relating to parenting, family, education, religion, medicine and lifestyle. Examples of her writing can be seen at http://amiebutchko.hubpages.com/ . She has a love of writing and a love of God, family and life.
Picture credits: (all photos may be shared)
Girl around corner: source courtesy of Flickr/Natesh Ramasamy. Some rights reserved. (CC BY 2.0)
Girl’s face: source courtesy of Flickr/Anthony Kelley. Some rights reserved. (CC BY 2.0)
Girl with Joy sign: source courtesy of Flickr/Susy Morris. Some rights reserved. (CC BY-NC 2.0)