For most kids, the summer break is likely to have been an enjoyable, fun-filled time with friends and family. However, there are some kids who may have been affected by a traumatic experience, tough times or family difficulties over the holidays.
Understandably, these experiences are big events for young people to cope with. However, the pressures of going to back to school can make these situations even harder to manage. Children may seem to cope ok with these events over the holidays, but then struggle to cope once the extra pressure of school is added to the mix.
If your child has gone through some tough times during the holidays, these 5 tips can help you support your child as they return back to school.
1. Look out for the signs
While it will take most kids up to a couple of weeks to settle back into the routines of school, kids who have experienced tough times over the holidays may take longer to get used to school again. Some indications that your child may be struggling to settle in include ongoing:
· Irritability, or difficulties managing emotions
· Relationship difficulties with friends, peers and teachers
· Disruptive behaviour in classes
· Loss of motivation in school and after-school activities
· Reluctance to go to school
While these signs are concerning in their own right, not addressing them early on can end up causing further problems down the road (including falling behind in school, and ongoing difficulties with peers)
2. Talk to your child’s school
Letting your child’s school know about the tough times or family difficulties which have occurred over the holidays can help teachers to understand any troubles that may come up at school. By talking to your child’s teachers and school staff, they’ll be in a better position to support your child during school hours when you’re not around.
You can find some helpful tips about talking to your child’s school in our tip sheet here.
3. Keep them going to school
It can be tempting to keep your child at home if you notice that they are struggling to cope with the transition back to school. However, it’s important to remember that continuing to take your child to school provides them with a predictable and ‘normal’ routine, which can help them to feel safe and secure.
4. Be Patient
Your child may take a while to settle back in to school, so try to be patient and persist in supporting them. A consistent approach between you and your child’s school is the best way to bring about changes over time.
5. Get extra support if needed
While your family and your child’s school can be a great source of support for your child, sometimes extra help might be necessary. This could be helpful for your child, or for someone else in your family (including you).
Children often do better after tough times when their parents start to do better, so getting help to put in place some positive coping strategies can help both you and your child.
You can access extra support for you, your child and the rest of your family by:
· Discussing the difficulties with friends and extended family
· Discussing the situation with your family doctor,
· Making an appointment to see a psychologist or counselor.
By following these tips, you can help your child (and the rest of your family) deal with difficulties as they settle into school. Additional advice and tipsheets about family difficulties and their impact on our children can be found in our website tgn.anu.edu.au