Helping your Child Deal with Back to School Fear

  School is important but it’s not always fun for kids. For younger kids, there is usually a lot of anxiety when they have to start school for the first time or go back to school after a break. Although a certain amount of fear and anxiety is necessary and normal, some young children need extra help to keep fear from becoming too consuming. It’s normal to a certain degree for children to have fears, I mean we all had them growing up. But when it’s too much, your child’s fears routinely interfere with his normal daily activities – like if he won’t go to bed because he’s afraid of the dark or insists on staying home for fear of seeing a dog. His fears intensify over time, which could be a sign he has a genuine phobia an intense and persistent irrational fear or an anxiety disorder. Your child gets so fearful that he simply can’t be calmed. If this is the case, the first step to dealing with this is to acknowledge your child’s fears. They may seem silly and irrational to you, but they’re very real and serious to your child. Try not to smile or laugh when they want you to check for monsters under the bed or won’t go outside because she’s scared of the neighbor’s poodle. By reassuring and comforting your child as you demonstrate that it’s okay to have fears and that there are helpful ways to deal with them. The fears won’t go away if you just ignore them and if they are not addressed they might hinder they social skills or daily activities.   Be careful when interacting with your child about their fears. Trying to convince your child that there isn’t any reason to be afraid will only backfire. You’ll probably just make her more upset if you say, “It’s okay, the dog won’t hurt you. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Instead, try saying, “I understand that the dog frightens you. Let’s walk past her together. If you don’t want to do that, I’ll hold you while she walks past us.” If you think your child’s fear stems from angry feelings or anxiety over a new situation – such as the arrival of a new sibling or starting preschool or going back to school after a break, – give her ways to express her feelings through pretend play. You can also use a comfort object. Both toddlers and preschoolers can get a great deal of comfort out of clutching a raggedy baby blanket or well-worn teddy bear. These objects can offer an anxious child lasting reassurance, especially during transitions like getting dropped off at preschool or tucked in for the night.   When they show particular fears about going back to school, you can also incentivize them with new toys or items. Like you could promise to buy them cute school backpacks or tell them you’ll let them pick their choice of Lace Up Sneakers or a special toy as a reward for going through the first day of school.   You can also make it easier for some young children to manage potentially scary situations, by introducing more social activities for them before school starts. like meeting new people, attending a playgroup, or visiting her doctor. So allow your child to hold on to that special toy or blanket, and don’t make her feel babyish for wanting to hang on to it. She’s likely to stop carrying around that threadbare monkey by the time she turns 4. By then, she’ll probably have learned other ways to soothe herself when she’s scared. Explain, expose, and explore. A scared toddler or preschooler can sometimes get over what’s worrying her if you provide a simple, rational explanation. For example, you may put an end to her fear of being sucked down the drain along with the bathwater by saying, “Water and bubbles can go down the drain, but rubber duckies and children can’t.” Or explain that an ambulance has to make a really loud noise so that other cars know to clear the way. For some children, a demonstration can be reassuring. Your child may be relieved to see that although a vacuum cleaner can suck up crumbs, sand, and dirt, it can’t inhale her toys or her father’s toes. A walk at dusk can help make nighttime seem more magical than scary. If your child trembles at the thought of getting a haircut, let the hairdresser snip a strand or two of your own hair to show that it doesn’t hurt. A child’s mind is adorable and capable of so much wonder. If you properly handle their fears and help them cultivate it, you would help them achieve all the potentials and see the world in a great light.   If her fear is fueled by past experiences – like getting a vaccination, for instance – don’t lie or sugarcoat things. But don’t dwell on the bad stuff, either. Gently acknowledge that the shot may sting at first, but remind her that it will be over quickly and then the two of you can do something fun afterward. It’s important to stay with your child during any painful procedure to show that you support the treatment and haven’t abandoned her,   You can also help your child learn about frightening things from a safe distance. Like carefully exposing them to frightening things through TV or books. Such limited exposure provides a safe context to deal with fears. For example, if your child is afraid to ride a bike because she doesn’t want to fall and skin her knees, then it might help to read stories about a young child who masters riding a bike without injuries. Similarly, she may get over her fear of monsters under the bed if she sees a show about a child who befriends fun monsters. If she’s scared of animals, a trip to a petting zoo might help.