Back to School… FINALLY!
Here at Inspired to Change our Childhood Specialist, Kathryn Johannes takes a look at how we can help our children transition back to school after lockdown.
“It certainly feels like an eternity since the children were last in school doesn’t it? Well it has in fact been about 20 weeks since we were all encouraged to work from home including our children. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it. Who else entered lockdown thinking they would own it? Not just me then!
At least the children of key workers were still able to go to school and get their education? I mean being separated from friends and their teachers into their new classroom ‘bubbles’ couldn’t have been that hard right? Wrong!
I have already seen an increase in parents contacting me to work with their children, many of these children have never suffered from anxiety before. So lets take a look at it from the child’s perspective and understand why we are seeing an increase in childhood anxiety through lockdown.
Firstly none of us really knew what lockdown was going to be like and this made answering our children’s questions really difficult – we were all facing the unknown. And we never knew or even anticipated that lockdown would go on for this long, I know I didn’t!
It has been a difficult for all of the children around us but in very different ways.
Young people in years 10, 11, 12 and 13 have had their A-Level results taken from their predicted grades following the cancellation of all exams on 23rd March. For some their predicted grades could have been higher than their actual result and for some it may be lower – this is something they will never really know. Their results could have an immense impact on their future education applications so it’s a worrying time for them. And let’s not forget the social aspect too – at this age our brain is developing a lot of our social responses so missed proms and not being able to hang out with your friends is more important than you might think. Many of these children would have been planning their dress or tux since last year and none of them got to wear that prom outfit.
Year 6 children have spent the last year looking forward to their end of primary school activities. When I was at school all we got was a pencil case, pen, pencil and rubber with the school logo on. However, now children look forward to residential trips, proms, parties, reward ceremonies and most importantly the preparation for secondary school. Transition visits play such a vital part in reassuring our children during a time of big change. Anyone else remember their first day at secondary school? I remember being petrified, little fish big pond comes to mind! So we now have a whole year of children who haven’t had their transition visits to ease the process.
Reception age children aged just 4 and 5 are finding this time hard too. At the end of reception the curriculum changes for these children with a massive jump in expectation – suddenly the children go from play based learning to formal learning. Preparation work for this has not been able to be carried out leaving them with a big leap to take.
And I’m pretty sure most of us parents could write a long list about how this time has been difficult for us – these really have been tough times. However, the more we focus on the negatives the more our brains look for them and the more likely we are to experience anxiety.
So how do we break this cycle for our children?
1. Ask them “what’s been good?”
Even if their having a bad day their brain cannot fight the urge to please you with a response. The best thing is you have to do it too! Oh yeah that’s right – anything I recommend for your child I expect you to join in with! When we break the cycle of negative thinking by answering the question “What’s been good today?” our brain primitive emotional mind has to stop focusing on the negatives in order to find the answer – an answer it can only find by using our more positive mind. And the more we practice this the better we become and we automatically look for the positives rather than the negatives.
2. Ensure your child knows it is ok to be worried.
This will help your child realise they are not alone – every single child is in the same boat, they all know how it feels to have the rug pulled from under their feet. Making it ok to talk about their worries will also help you as the parent to understand how they feel so you can help them. Take a look at our Back To School – No Worries blog for other ways you can tell your child might be suffering if they aren’t speaking to you about it.
3. Ensure they are sleeping
The most effective way to process stress and worry is to ensure you get enough quality sleep. You can recognize a lack of sleep in younger children more – the more tired they are the more they cry and get angry when things don’t go their way. Notice the emphasis is on quality sleep not just sleep. Our sleep cycle should be made up around 20% REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and 80% deep restorative sleep. If this balance is off you can usually tell as you (and your children!) may be grumpy and more tired than usual. We process and move memories from our short term memory to our long term memory during REM sleep, this is tiring for our brains though which is why we need to have the good restorative sleep so we can recover and heal ourselves.
4. Ensure they are eating well
What we put into our bodies effects how our brain operates. If we are eating junk food and sugary snacks we will be a little erratic and feel generally sluggish. Its not just what we eat though, we also need to be drinking plenty too. Our body is mostly made up of water, without it our organs literally shrivel (including our brain!). Having the correct balance is vital to gaining a step toward a healthy mind.
These simple tips will help prepare your child for the next chapter in their lives. So much of what happens next is out of our control, so it’s important for us to focus on changing simple things that are within our control. You’ll find more simple tips for helping your children head back to school here (insert this link as a hyper link) //www.inspiredtochange.biz/2017/09/06/top-tips-for-heading-back-to-school/
About the Author:
Kathryn Johannes’ passion for making a difference to children in their early years led her to retrain as a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist after 11 years of working in the sector. “I want to support children to become the very best version of themselves so that they can flourish in whatever they choose to do”. Kathryn is based in Peterborough – find out more about Kathryn here.
If you’d like to know more about how solution focused hypnotherapy could help your children overcome anxiety why not book in for a FREE initial consultation with one of our Inspired to Change Associates? Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are based across the UK in Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Devon, Essex, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Somerset.
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
To find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist click here for our hypnotherapy school information.