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3 Tips to Reduce Your Child’s Anxiety
About Starting at a New School
As the end of summer approaches, there is so much for young people to look forward to. The nervous anticipation of collecting and labeling their new school items, to thoughts of who their teacher will be and which kids will be in their class.
Unfortunately, amongst all this excitement, it can also be a time of high anxiety for young people who will be attending a new school.
This is a time where a young person experiences a whole heap of changes, from having to travel to a new school (some children may even be boarding away from home), to making new friends, dealing with increased school workload, having to move from room to room to attend classes (if they are transitioning to high school), navigating the new school and, on top of all this, the older children also have to deal with the physical changes associated with adolescence!
A successful school transition is particularly important, as students who experience a positive school transition are more likely to complete their final year in school, which in turn, can influence their employment opportunities and future career prospects.
Australian researchers have found that although many young people experience anxiety about transitioning schools, only a small percentage of young people report experiencing difficulties with the transition.
Researchers have found that most young people are more anxious about making friends at their new school than anything else!
Feeling a sense of belonging, along with the associated effects of a positive sense of well-being is particularly important in influencing the success of a young person’s school career.
While this might all sound a little daunting, luckily, there are plenty of strategies you can use to help your child transition successfully to a new school (and reduce their anxiety about “fitting in” and making new friends).
Here are 3 of our most popular strategies for reducing young people’s anxiety around changing schools:
It is common for children to feel anxiety over starting at a new school, particularly when their new school is in a different suburb or further away from home than their old school.
One of the main contributors to this is learning out how to get to and from school.
You can help reduce your child’s anxiety around travel arrangements by helping your child work out how they are getting to and from school well before the first day.
For example, if your child needs to catch public transport to school alone for the first time, you could do a practice run with them during the school holidays, so they feel more confident about taking the bus or train on their own once school starts.
Make Yourself Available
As one of the biggest sources of anxiety for young people transitioning schools is making new friends, it is important that there it is as easy as possible for them to participate in social events.
It can help if you are prepared to take your child to social events and/or work with them to identify how they can make it to social events.
Being involved in social events is one of the quickest and easiest ways for young people to make new friends. The chances are, that they will need you to support them by being prepared to take them to and from these events.
This can go a long way to reducing your child’s anxiety around making friends and fitting in at their new school.
Catch Up After School
Be available to catch up with your child after school on their first few days.
Particularly if your child is having a difficult time, it can be important that you are available for them to talk to. On the other hand, you might find out that they love their new school, have made friends already and feel as though they will settle in just fine!
Either way, it is a good idea to be available. Try to arrange a time to catch up with your child for a coffee or even a meal out to celebrate making it through the first day or week of their new school.
This will give them an opportunity to talk through anything that is bothering them, and also give you an opportunity to help them celebrate any achievements they have made in the first week. It will also help you to get an idea for yourself about how well they are settling in (and hopefully provide some reassurance to you too!)
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