Things have been very stressful for families over the past year and in particular during the lockdown periods when children and young people have spent long stretches at home without the welcome distraction of school routines and seeing friends.
Now, the return to school is imminent which may be triggering a mixture of emotions in your household, ranging from anxiety or worry to anger or sadness.
Maybe you are wondering how your child or young person is going to adapt and get back into the swing of things as they have been out of routine for so long.
We have put together some ideas to help your child to ease back more comfortably into the school setting:
Listen and acknowledge worries
Leading up to the return to school, try to listen to your child and acknowledge their worries, letting them know you understand and are there for them.
It is very powerful for children and young people to be heard, without us needing to ‘fix’ the problem or trying to change the way they feel.
If they find talking hard, they might like to express their feelings in another way, for example through drawing, writing or play.
Bring back some routine
As children have been out of school for so long, you may have found they are out of their usual routines, for example they may be going to bed later and getting up later than they used to.
So perhaps start to bring some routine back by slowly adjusting bedtimes and getting up time in the morning. It might be useful to acknowledge with your child how this might feel frustrating but also explaining why you are doing it and how it will be helpful when they return to school, as it will help their body to adapt.
Re-connect with friends
It will help to encourage your child to re-connect with their friends, perhaps via a video link or a socially distanced meeting at the park. This may help to ease the anxiety of returning to school and seeing their friends.
Also, perhaps try to include some fun activities leading up to the school return to help them focus on other things and not overthink their return to school, for example a walk in the woods or a play at the park or playing a game together.
Revisit school routines
Provide your child with as much information about their new routine and school day as you can so they feel more prepared when they return.
Go through any routines that the school has informed you of, for example hand washing or specific bubbles that might have been put in place. With younger children it may be helpful to visualise how the day will look, perhaps drawing some pictures together or with older children, creating a timetable together.
On the day
On the morning of the return to school, make it as stress free as you can. Perhaps encourage your child to get their school things ready the night before and wake up with plenty of time to get ready.
Maybe they could choose their favourite breakfast and they could walk in with you or with a friend. If your child is particularly anxious about leaving you, perhaps they could take something small of yours into school with them that might reassure them or alternatively you could put a little note in their lunchbox, so they know that you are thinking of them.
Find time for yourself
Be aware of your own stress and anxiety regarding your child’s return to school as your child will pick up on this.
Make sure that you are looking after yourself too, and include time to help you to de-stress, for example finding time for a nice soak in a bubble bath or watching a favourite movie.
You may like to use our School Memories resource so your child can talk about or draw their favourite memories of school life before lockdown.
If you are concerned that your child is overly anxious about the return to school and you are unable to calm their worries, please talk to your child’s school.
Bearing all of this in mind, it is so important to remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself. You don’t need to be the perfect parent or to sail through this and by putting this expectation upon yourself only increases feelings of failure or inadequacy.
It is important to remember that you are supporting your children through an extremely difficult time - just getting through this is okay.
Parents are now able to access direct support for their child by referring them into the safe hands of our Self-Referral Team of Therapists.
The self-referral pathway provides therapy to children, young people and families. We support issues such as self-harm, identity, anxiety, bullying, bereavement, parental separation and family issues or conflict. We offer support to children and young people through talking, play and art therapy.
We have a team of highly experienced counsellors, specialist child and adolescent counsellors and play therapists available within the self-referral pathway who work in our specially adapted therapy rooms four days a week.
The pathway is overseen by Sarah D’Lima, who is an experienced counsellor herself. Sarah and the team are both passionate about and dedicated to the wellbeing of children and young people. The team has achieved very positive and reparative outcomes for children and families.
What can we expect?
After an initial contact, Sarah will arrange an assessment to explore the issues your child may be experiencing; she will then identify which model best supports the difficulty your child may be facing.
There is a charge for each session, however there are some opportunities for funding so please do call us to discuss.
Who do we contact?
If you are worried about your child and would like to talk to us further, please email Sarah or call our Self-Referral Hotlineon 01268 947061 and leave a message.
Sarah or Alison will call return your call and set up an initial assessment.
Take a moment to read about the experiences two of our parents have shared with us:
"I had contacted a number of professional services to assist me in helping my daughter. At the suggestion of my daughter's school a referral was made to bccs and it was then that I met one of their counsellors. After months of unanswered questions and "hitting brick walls" I finally had answers, structure and a profound understanding of how a small little girl's mind works. For me, there has been nothing so worrying as watching your child struggle and the bccs counsellor's help has enabled me to help her for which I will be forever grateful."
"I don't doubt how much you have helped him find ways to deal
with his feelings and what is really fantastic is that somehow, talking to you
has made him understand that it's good to talk about one's feelings and he
seems a lot more open now."