Q & A with Melody Yeung, Registered Psychotherapist and Teacher
Back to school brings up a lot of ‘stuff’ for parents and kids. When tackling these thoughts – it can be helpful to get a little help from the experts. We sat down with Registered Psychotherapist & School Teacher, Melody Yeung to ask how she can help.
Melody, what are some of the most common back to school anxieties that children face?
It is definitely common to have back-to-school jitters, and from my experience, teachers get it too! It is hard to go back to a structured routine after a relaxing and enjoyable summer.
Some of the most common back-to-school anxieties include:
- Who will be my teacher? Will my new teacher be nice?
- Will my friends be in my class? Will anyone be my friend?
- Will I fit in? Are my clothes cool enough?
- What if something bad happens to mom and dad when I’m at school?
What are some tips you recommend to parents helping kids with this in the weeks leading up to the first day of school?
A few weeks before school starts, make sure you carve out some time to address the anxieties that your child(ren) may have. It is good to normalize these feelings, as most other children (and teachers) will have some anxiety towards school starting again. Once school starts, the conversations can shift to highlighting the positive things that happened at school.
Instead of avoiding the discussion and just reassuring your child, encourage them to problem-solve some possible ideas as solutions (e.g., If no one comes to sit with you at lunch, what can you do? What could happen if you ask to sit beside someone? What should you do if they say no?). It might even be a good opportunity to practice some role-playing with your child.
Also, set some good back-to-school routines to help your child adjust to the transition. This may include sleeping at a reasonable time, waking up and eating breakfast, etc. It’s important to make sure your child is well-rested and eating healthy food options.
For more details on these tips, visit Anxiety BC for more strategies to cope with back to school anxiety.
How do you help children with anxieties in your psychotherapy practice?
In my psychotherapy practice, I often see children with a wide range of anxieties. It can often be crippling and feel unbearable. As a narrative therapist, I’ve found it helpful in our sessions to talk with the child to figure out what the anxiety looks like for them, as everyone has a different experience! As we begin to understand the effects of the anxiety on the child, we also begin to explore how the child would like life to be like, and how this differs from what anxiety may be telling him/her. Overall, as children understand the anxiety and its effect on them, they are often empowered to change their lives and see life differently once again.
You can contact the clinic for a consultation if you feel that your child can benefit from understanding their anxieties.