Helping Your Child With Back To School Anxiety
There is no denying that the back-to-school season can be anxiety-provoking. If you’ve noticed that your child’s anxiety levels have been increasing, know that you’re not alone. It’s natural to feel some anxiety alongside uncertainty, which is an unavoidable part of a new school year.
Child therapists often talk about the idea of aiming to be thermostats rather than thermometers when it comes to our children’s emotions. If you’re acting as an emotional thermometer, you may see your child feeling anxious or dysregulated and reflect that back to them. Understandably, their anxiety increases your own anxiety, and the two continue to feed off of each other.
Your child might feel unsure or scared about certain parts of the upcoming school year. While it’s important to recognize these emotions and acknowledge that they make sense, we also have the power as parents to model what to do with these feelings. We can act as thermostats rather than thermometers, and adjust our own emotional temperatures to help our children do the same; this is called “coregulation.”
For example, if your child is nervous about starting at a new school, you can first validate this emotion:
“You’re nervous. It’s hard to go to a new place and meet new people.”
But you can also go one step further by demonstrating your own calmness about the subject and your confidence in your child.
“But you can do hard things! Do you remember when you first started dance class? You felt nervous but you found ways to feel calmer. Let’s think of ways to help your body and mind feel calmer about school.”
By far, the most powerful thing you can do to help your child feel a sense of calm is to first make sure that you, yourself, are accessing that sense of calm, too. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel some anxiety of your own, but it does mean that prioritizing your own mental health is important. When you’re taking care of yourself, you can show your child that even in the midst of uncertainty, you’ll be there beside them to understand, to help solve whatever challenges arise, and to give them some extra calm or confidence when they need it.
If your child is struggling with anxiety or another mental health concern and it is impacting their daily life, it may be time to seek a therapist’s help. Favored Wellness Counseling and Consulting, LLC is here to help! Reach out today at (412) 339-1782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.