If your kids are going back to school this week, the return may be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they’re probably looking forward to spending time with like-aged peers, which is also considered crucial for mental and emotional health and development. On the other, the prospect of readjusting to school after weeks or months at home may provoke anxieties in both children and parents. We asked provisional psychologist Amy for tips to ease your family’s transition.

1. Reestablish routine. A regular sleep schedule is important for children’s learning and will help to regulate their concentration and energy levels. For the first fortnight, pay particular attention to enforcing regular bedtimes.

2. Listen and reassure. Children may worry about what will be different upon their return. Listen to and validate their concerns and provide reassuring suggestions to ease the anxieties (e.g. ‘I understand that you feel anxious about me not walking into your classroom each day, but what about meeting your friend ‘x’ at the door and walking in together?’)

3. Be patient. With any marked change, some behavioural and emotional challenges are par for the course. Set limits on difficult behaviours, but endavour to understand your child’s point of view and make them feel validated (not ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’). As children adjust to a school routine, behavioural and emotional episodes should improve.

4. Check in. After each school day, encourage your child to share one positive thing that happened at school that day. Also remind them that they can go to their teachers, or to you, for help and support.

If you have a question about your child’s responses to the school return, our paediatric psychologists would love to help. Just ask us in comments! #keepsoaring

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We honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to all Elders, past and present.
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