Recently kids in the San Ramon area have returned to school, which brings many emotions for both the parent and child. A new school year can be exciting, but it’s also stressful and scary for some children. Having to adapt to a new teacher, new expectations, and a new structure is difficult and can cause some children to feel anxious. Social pressures also exist, such as who to sit with at lunch or who to play with at recess. Relational bullying, a common form being exclusion, can be harmful and can cause kids and teens to strongly dislike school.
When kids are under pressure at school, whether academically, socially, or they are just having a hard time adjusting, this can be expressed in many different ways. For some kids it shows physically, through a headache or stomachache that happens more mornings than not over a significant span of time. For some kids these symptoms show up the night before as they ruminate on what the next day will bring. Sometimes biological reasons may be behind the symptoms, but frequently it has an emotional root. Giving kids space to process how school is going, what they’re nervous about, and working through the different scenarios they may face ahead of time can make them feel empowered and more capable. While talking it out won’t necessarily make the math test or mean girl go away, it can give your child an outlet and a place to run through different options or conversations they may have that week.
Some children may express their emotions about transitions through outbursts of anger and emotion. Getting ready in the morning or coming home from school may be more emotionally charged than usual at the beginning of the year as they adjust to the new environment and are more mentally tired than they are used to being. Car tantrums, fights over outfits, or refusal to eat breakfast may all fit into that category. In these scenarios, a little more grace, communication, and patience could go a long way towards making your child feel safe and comforted. This transition won’t last forever, they’ll get back into their normal routine and school will have less unknowns as the time goes on. Remember that this time is challenging for your child so they may not act as you would normally expect, but having a safe place to land at home helps tremendously.