I Don’t Wanna Go To School!
The excitement of the new school year has come and gone. The hustle and bustle of children roaming the halls is in full swing. However, some kids are still feeling that nervous pang every time their mom says, “Time to get your shoes on, the bus is almost here!” Their stomachs begin to flutter and their eyes begin to well up… “Not another day of school”, they think to themselves. For these kids, going off to start their day at school can be very difficult. Maybe they aren’t comfortable with their teacher. A classmate may have said something to upset them one day, and they haven’t been able to forget about it. The transition from the classroom… to lunch…to recess…to music, might make them feel uneasy and unsettled.
I asked kids who have suffered from “school anxiety” what worked best for them! Here are some helpful ideas that we discussed that can make an anxious child feel more comfortable:

DISTRACTIONS- Keep their mind off of their fear, and re-focus onto something positive.
1) Hide a baseball card or a sticker in an envelope. Tell them they can’t see what is inside the envelope until they get on the bus. They can even decorate the envelope in the morning before leaving for school. It gives the child something to look forward to while distracting them from their anxiety of going to school.

2) Play the Candy Counting Game. Have them count 1-20 and name a different type of candy with each number. Example- 1 candy corn, 2 Starburst… and so on. (you can do this for anything- tv characters, ice cream flavors, colors)

3) Play the “I’m Going On A Picnic” game – Start with the letter A (apples) B (bagels) and go through Z. It’s educational and will help with letters and spelling!

4) Watching a favorite TV show or playing a game on the computer before school can relax a child and get them to focus on something other than their fear.

5) Don’t over talk your child’s anxiety. Sometimes parents put their own anxiety on their children. Help them relax and think about positive, happy thoughts before going off to start their day

Now, the good part… When your child is making those strides to alleviate their anxiety by following the above suggestions, they need to be REWARDED for their success! Kids need to be praised for their accomplishments
Here is what you need to do… Make a Sticker Chart at the beginning of the week. Give your child a sticker at the end of every successful day. When they earn 5 stickers they can pick a special reward of their choice.

  • Take your child on a special Ice Cream Date at the end of the week.

  • Make a Treasure Chest. After a great week have them take a trip to the treasure chest for a special treat. Some suggestions…a piece of candy, stickers, baseball cards, a little bracelet, tattoos.

  • Dinner of their choice. They get to pick what they want for dinner! Maybe it’s their favorite restaurant, or your famous tacos?

  • Movie Night… A date at the movie theater or watch their favorite DVD together.

Show your child that you are confident that they will get past this. Kids need to know that their parents believe in them. I know it is difficult, but have some extra patience, these things take time!

Stefanie Weiss- Mental Health Consultant
Follow me on Twitter @stefweiss25 for helpful parenting advice and up to the minute studies for children suffering with Anxiety, OCD, AHDH and other related disorders.