It’s always worrying for parents when a child dislikes their new school, or dreads the beginning of another school year. It can seem inexplicable: the child may enjoy the subjects they are studying, and have friends they are looking forward to seeing again, but even so, they may feel ‘down’, worried and even become tearful and frightened at the thought of school.
There are several ways to help a nervous or unhappy child get over the first days of the new term:
Memory banks for both sexes – instead of forcing your child to think forward, encourage them to think backwards: creating a scrapbook about the summer which records their best memories of the school break can be a good way of getting them into the groove of school again. The best way to use a scrapbook is to fill it from the front to the back with memories and from the back to the front with plans, so that a child can prepare pages for school trips, for birthday parties in the months ahead and for half-term ideas, all of which balance out the fun of school and the fun of holidays.
Self esteem for girls – sometimes it’s low self-esteem that triggers a bout of fear so taking a daughter for a haircut, or helping her revamp her wardrobe can be enough to remove the feeling of inadequacy. Don’t suggest it as an answer though, just plan a family trip to the hairdressers or suggest that you go through her school clothing with her while you talk over the problem … that way you can suggest a couple of items that would add to her clothing choices. For older girls, try offering a budget and letting them have a friend round to shop online together – this allows them to exercise the power of choice and to work out how to get the most for their money, both attributes that boost self-esteem.
Self-esteem for boys – often boys struggle with their feelings, so getting them involved in an activity where they can express their emotions, such as drama, can be the simplest way to release fears and tensions around school. Sports, unsurprisingly, are also a great safety valve, but rather than football or after-school activities, enrol him in a mixed age sport like a martial art. A class where they will be able to see and hear older people than themselves coping with challenges, making fools of themselves and getting over it, and winning and losing in public gives them the chance to learn the skills they need to feel secure at school. A martial art also teaches boys how to care for their appearance and clothing and to be polite in public: key features of a successful school career.