This week, children across the UK will be returning back to school after a lengthy six weeks off. While some may be excited about the prospect of a new school year and seeing their friends again, many others feel nervous and pressured. 

Here's how you can help relieve their back to school stress.

1. Be Aware

First and foremost, it's important to be aware of when your child is experiencing nerves relating to school. How do they behave before school? If they complain of feeling unwell a lot, tend to have early morning tantrums, mess around and procrastinate instead of getting ready or have trouble going to bed or sleeping, they may be having a hard time with going back to school.

2. Talk

If you're still not certain about how your child is feeling about school, bring it up in everyday conversation. Ask if they're excited, nervous, worried or happy about it. Listen to what they say and don't try to make their worries sound insignificant. Use conversation as an opportunity to pinpoint what exactly might be unsettling them.

3. Structure

A good structure might not be the be all and all of solving your child's back to school worries, but consistency may help them feel a little more settled. Establish strong play time (which can include fun events or new experiences to keep their mind away from school), sleep time (to ensure they're getting the right amount of sleep), work time (to help them ease their homework load) and family time (letting them know you're there for them, and creating an open dialogue around worries and stresses).

4. Approach the School

If you think something is happening at your child's school that is causing their worry, approach the school. Let them know what is happening, and ask to confidentially disclose to them what your and child's worries are. The school should then be able to offer support accordingly.

5. Seek Professional Help

If your child's worries persist throughout the school term, they may be experiencing anxiety or another other mental health issue, and therefore may benefit from additional support. You can contact your GP, or other organisations such as YoungMinds, Mind and The Children's Society.

6. Take Time

Spending time with your children is very important, but even more so as they enter a new school year. Spend time with them to understand their worries and fears, and what individual support they might need. If you feel you need more time for bonding, speak with your employer to see if there is any potential for flexitime.

7. Try Something New

If your child isn't opening up and you're not sure how to practically engage them in conversation, it could be worth trying a new game. Games such as 'Fact or Fiction', where you make three statements, one false and two true, can be used to encourage them to talk about their day. For example, "Today I had a banana for lunch", "Today we watched a film in class" and "Today I made a new friend". Older children may benefit from taking up a new activity or hobby to help take their mind off of school pressures. 

Find out more about our Mental Health support here.

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