While it’s normal for kids to be apprehensive and anxiety about going to school for the first time, it should definitely not be taken lightly. Kids will usually adapt quickly to new environments but there are telltale signs when a child isn’t feeling quite alright with school.
Counselling psychologist Dr. Lee Kham Chuan suggests that school anxiety could be detrimental to a child’s academic performance and affect their ability to form relationships.
The child might even start to overthink and question, “Why is everyone okay with the new school, but not me?”. Here are some signs that could help you identify your child’s anxiety and what you can do to help them
Unusual behaviour or responses
When a usually outspoken child suddenly becomes quiet or when your usually quiet child gets especially alarmed when the topic of school comes up, perhaps it’s time to sit up and take note.
Children might not understand what anxiety means or how to express It the way adults do so, it’s best to get a second opinion with a psychologist to understand the situation better.
Patterns in physical symptoms and behaviours
Children express their unhappiness in many ways and when it comes to an emotion they might not have a full grasp on just yet, they can manifest even more. From physical symptoms like headaches to nausea and even temper tantrums, these symptoms can all give signs that your child might have some sort of psychological distress.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Talk to your child about the new school and try to find out where your child’s fears and concerns are coming from. Remember to use a caring tone and show genuine curiosity when asking your child. Let them know they can depend on you and try to focus on the positive side of the matter.
Include familiar things in your child’s routine
Children take comfort in familiar things and it’s great to include them in their daily routine. If they love a particular breakfast of Nutella and bread, make it for them on their first day of school.
Ease them into school
If possible, make a request to let your child visit the school before their first day there. Let them know that they will learn new and exciting things and that they will be making loads of friends. This gives your child a chance to create a visual image and build some expectations.
Text: Joyce Teo/Straits Times Additional Reporting: Atika Lim