Bored children doesn’t mean bad parenting and encourages creativity by Mercedes Maguire, interview with Georgina Manning
DO YOU scrunch your face in frustration when your hear your child mutter the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored”?
Take a deep breath and unclench your fists — guess what? Being bored is actually good for children and not a sign of bad parenting. Psychologists report children are bombarded with constant entertainment through technology, bedrooms full of toys and a schedule of activities that would make the Prime Minister’s head spin.
Where is the time to stare vacantly out of the window, daydream, or just sit and think clearly and calmly?
Research shows boredom, or the frustration that comes with not being engaged in anything at all, offers great benefits for children in particular. It allows the mind a moment to stop and rest, but ultimately boredom is the pathway to creative thinking and imaginative play.
A bored mind, it is argued, will seek something more interesting to do. Dr Helen Street, a social psychologist and creator of the Positive Schools Initiative, which promotes mental health and wellbeing conferences in primary and secondary schools, says children need to experience boredom more than ever before. “We are seeing a massive creativity deficit in kids. “A child’s school life is more structured than ever and from an earlier age than ever before,” Dr Street says.
“There is this idea that school is a race and the sooner you get started on it the better you’ll be. Then of course there is the advent of technology, which has taken over our lives in the past decade. It allows children to spend an awful lot of downtime passively engaged with screens and leaves kids with very little time for unstructured play.
“As a result we are seeing a massive creativity deficit in kids. People often mistake creativity with having an artistic skill, but that is not what we are talking about here.
“Creativity is important because it allows you to actively engage in life, to connect with people and pursue your passions. But to do that you have to learn to be self-directed.
An expert says technology is not the sole culprit for a lack of self-directed play in homes and schools.
“This is difficult for a child who has grown up having every demand met by their parents and every moment filled in with scheduled, structured activity, with little or no choice or control over what happens next.”
The value of boredom is not a new theory, famed philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out the benefits as early as 1930 in his book The Conquest of Happiness, where he states “a child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil”.
In 1999 a pair of German public health officers were so concerned with the amount of toys provided to children in preschools they introduced a bold plan. Called Der Spielzeugfreie Kindergarten, or the nursery without toys, they removed every toy from a preschool for three months of the year, leaving only tables, chairs and the odd blanket.
“One of the best things they can do for their child is allow time for regular free play every day.” The observers noted that on the first day the children sat hesitantly staring at each other, but by the second day they were using the blankets and tables to create castles and cubbies, and the chairs to simulate trains. The teachers reported the children concentrated, socialised and communicated better following this period.
Put simply, the theory shows that bored children will seek out a more satisfying activity because the actual act of being bored is so lacking, the mind will naturally start to seek out more enjoyment.
It’s easy to blame technology for the zombie-like ways children sit for hours clutching their devices or staring at the television. But Dr Street says technology is not the sole culprit for a lack of self-directed play in homes and schools. “Self-directed play allows children to engage in an activity where they have choice and control over what they do,” Dr Street says.
“It allows a child to become so totally engrossed in their activity that time passes without them even noticing. It’s called being ‘in slow’ or ‘in the zone’ and it’s a wonderful feeling but, as parents, we don’t allow enough of it.”
Counsellor and psychotherapist Georgina Manning created the program Peaceful Kids, which instructs children on how to achieve mindfulness and meditation in schools, after she noticed a spike in stress and anxiety in children as young as five. The two-day program, taught in schools across Australia, teaches children to be fully present through a range of exercises.
“The program teaches kids simple activities like how to notice their breath when their mind wanders,” the Wellbeing For Kids director says.
“But it’s also important for kids to engage in informal mindfulness, which is just free, creative play, things like playing with Lego, making robots from cardboard, building an ant farm, dressing up. This kind of informal mindfulness allows them to become fully immersed and it clears the mind.
“If a child never has the opportunity to rest their mind — and sleep alone doesn’t do it — it can lead to anxiety, ongoing stress response, perfectionism, generally being unhappy and burning out.”
She says the main elements in society preventing boredom is too much technology, over-scheduling activities and having a stressed family life.
“Parents often feel guilty if their child isn’t constantly engaged in structured activities like sport, music, dance, drama and tutoring,” she says.
“But one of the best things they can do for their child is allow time for regular free play every day.”
DOING BATTLE WITH SCREENS
MOOREBANK mum Kylie Reynolds remembers playing with friends, riding her bike and swimming in the backyard pool after coming home from school. But the mum to Jay, 12, Kayla, 10 and Lachlan, four months, says a lot has changed from one generation to the next. She says she does daily battle with her children to get them off their screens and play like kids used to. “I think parenting kids today is a lot more complicated and challenging than when I was a kid,” she says. “And as far as I can see, the main reason is technology.
Kylie Reynolds with children Jay 12, Lachlan 17 weeks and Kayla, 10, near their home in Moorebank. “Kids have such a dependence of those screens and when I put the hammer down and say enough is enough, they really fight me on it. Kayla will find other things to do when I take the screens away, she’ll colour or read a book or play with toys, but it’s much tougher with Jay.”
Reynolds says she worries this generation of children are losing their ability to use their imagination or to be creative because of the dependence on screens. “I remember being bored when I was little but I’d go to a friend’s house to play or swim in the pool, I’d be out all afternoon with my friends, coming home only when dinner was ready.
“But I think parents are too scared to let their kids wander too far on their own these days, and I’ll admit I’m guilty of that too. I’m sure the threats that are around now were around back then but it wasn’t in your face like it is now.
“The kids have plenty to do in the backyard, we have a netted trampoline, a pool and have had cubbies, slip ‘n’ slides and totem tennis, but they lose interest after a while.
“I can see ... how boredom can lead to kids finding more creative things to do. But I do think technology has reduced their interest in other simpler activities.”
With the rise of the internet and mobile technology, the children of today exist in a vastly different world than the one we grew up in. Whereas all the world’s information was once contained within the 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the daily newspaper, we are now exposed to a constant barrage of 24 hour news cycles, advertising, ‘fake news’, ‘sponsored content’ and social media ‘influencers’ that make it difficult to find the balance of staying informed and nurturing our offline relationships with our families and friends, nature and ourselves.
Indeed, finding the balance has fast become one of the biggest issues facing families and children today. Information overload and addiction to screens and social media has seen a rise in a vast array of interconnected health and wellbeing issues. Obesity, anxiety, stress, depression, sleep deprivation and social isolation have all been linked to overuse and addiction to screens, social media and gaming in children and adults alike. When these issues present in children, the effects on their social development and learning can be devastating.
Much of this can be attributed to the ubiquitousness of technology and screens and the increasingly intelligent designs of games and social media. Where video games were once developed to be more technically and visually advanced then their competition, online games and social media are now engineered to influence the way we think and act in much the same way poker machines do. They target the pleasure centres of our brains with the sole purpose of occupying as much of our time as possible to expose us to the advertisements that keep their revenue streams flowing.
Facebook and other social media platforms know when you wake up, go to sleep and are most likely to use your device. They will send a notification just prior to these times in order to catch your attention and expose you to more content and ads. Online games from app stores will create rewards, blockers and limits which ensure children are compelled to continually check in with the game at regular intervals.
This is not to detract from the many advantages that technology has brought to our lives. Medical advances, long distance travel, free and open education and the ability to communicate with those far away as if we are face to face, are all aspects of our daily lives that we now take for granted. However, as the saying goes, we mustn’t allow technology capabilities to bring those far away much closer at the expense of making those close to us more distant.
To combat this, we must be proactive in setting limits and rules. We must make a conscious effort to monitor our own technology use to set the example to our children. Below is a small list of things you can do now to help your children develop positive habits with their technology use.
Set the example – Be aware of the example you set to your children with your own technology use. Downloading an app such as ‘Moment’ can help you monitor the time you spend on your device and how many times you pick it up throughout the day. This can be quite an eye opener.
Create family rules and stick to them – These can vary for children of different ages and between weekdays and weekends.
Technology free times – Make a time every day that is technology free. The hours leading up to bedtime are particularly important as the light emitted from screens block the buildup of melatonin which helps us get to sleep. Green time as well as screen time – Ensure children are given the opportunity to interact with nature and the environment.
No technology in bedrooms – Setting this rule early makes it much easier when your child becomes a teenager. If possible, have the computer/device in the living room or where family spends most of their time. This allows for easier supervision.
Encourage open communication – Talk to your child about their technology use. Ask what apps they are using. Get them to show you how they work, what they do. Continually encourage them to come to you if they feel uncomfortable or there is problem without worrying about being in trouble. If you threaten to take away their device when they come to you, they most likely won’t come to you again.
Staying ahead of the technological curve in today’s world is not easy and there will always be times where things slip by us. However, by setting the ground rules early and being tuned in to the effects, both good and bad, of technology in our everyday lives, we can help ensure our children are creating positive habits early that will allow them to flourish in their learning, relationships and daily lives.
Below are two great sites to help you stay up to date with how your children are using technology and the latest trends.
Why parents should feel good about saying 'no' to their kids by Kasey Edwards, interview with Georgina Manning
"No." It's a word I've said fifty-seven gazillion time since becoming a parent. And it doesn't get easier.
I can handle the "you can't run on the road because you'll die" type of "no". Those "nos" just roll off my tongue. But when it comes to saying "no" to "Can I mix a magical fairy potion of glitter, glue and tomato sauce on my bed?" or "Can I have the complete set of Shopkins like the other girls at school?" I haven't got better at it with practice. Those "nos" are almost always followed by a brutal stab of self-doubt.
Am I crushing my child's spirit? Will she resent me when she's older? Am I just being selfish/lazy/inattentive/insert mother guilt adjective here? But according to director of Wellbeing for Kids, Georgina Manning, I can spare myself the mother guilt.
"If you hear yourself saying 'no' a lot then you can remind yourself that you're doing a great job," says Manning who is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist.
According to Manning, the self-esteem movement has hijacked our maternal instincts and our desire to be the best mothers possible. With the very best intentions mothers, and increasingly fathers, mistakenly feel that indulging their child's every whim is a measure of their love for them.
"The pendulum has swung too far and we've gone from not being emotionally attuned with our children to thinking that protecting them from any discomfort or things that they don't want to do is a way of showing love," says Manning.
Rather than feeling bad about saying "no" to our kids, here's five reasons why we should feel good about it:
1. Kids need to feel discomfort
Yes, it can be gut-wrenching to watch your kids struggle, and the temptation to minimise or remove their discomfort can be great. But this can set them up for failure later on because life is, at times, uncomfortable. And when they're older, no one is going to create a false reality where discomfort doesn't exist for them.
"A trend that I'm seeing is that parents are keeping their kids home from school when they've had a little upset the day before or if their child has a bit of anxiety about swimming, camp, speaking on assembly, or something else they don't want to do," Manning says.
"But if parents protect their child from uncomfortable emotions, when they're older they won't know how to cope with those feelings. Avoidance grows anxiety because it teaches them that the thing that they are anxious about is so bad that the person who is in charge of their life thinks they can't possibly manage it."
2. Kids need to learn to wait
Learning to delay gratification can be a tough and tantrum-inducing lesson, but it is one of the most important factors for success in life.
Manning says she sees parents who provide a constant stream of positive on-demand experiences instead of making children wait for treats, such as making them do their home responsibilities before they play or saving up for a toy or a holiday.
"Life is full of waiting and life is hard," says Manning. "We have to work to get what we want, whether that's a thing or success; we can't just instantly get it and we need to teach our children that really important lesson."
If we give our children exactly what they want when they want it, we also risk raising self-centred, entitled and, at the extreme, narcissistic children.
3. Boundaries make kids feel secure
Too many choices and inconsistent responses and outcomes can cause anxiety in adults. The same applies to children, but one parenting trend is to negotiate with children on pretty much everything. Constant negotiation can make children feel insecure because they never know where they stand or what outcome they are going to get. This can induce anxiety and make kids lose trust in their parents.
"Children always push for boundaries, they are pushing for those 'nos' and it's our job to give it to them," says Manning. "A 'no' might not be immediately what the child wants but overall it can be comforting for them because they know that there are limits and they feel cared for and safe."
Saying "no" doesn't need to be a shouting match or followed with lengthy discussions or justifications, Manning says.
"A positive way to say no is: 'In our house we….(only have half an hour of iPad a night). End of discussion. Walk out of the room.' It lasts a few seconds, not an hour."
4. Kids need to know their parents are in charge
Any parent knows that being in charge and making the decisions all the time can be exhausting. It is too much for us to expect our children to take on that responsibility.
"Hierarchy has really gone out of fashion in parenting. But psychologically, it's really important for kids to know that the person looking after them is in control," says Manning.
"I see parents pleading with their child. 'Please do this' or 'Please don't hit that child'. This puts the child in charge."
5. Kids need parents to be parents and not friends
I'm sure I'm not the only parent who has worried that my children won't love me, either now or when they grow up. Manning says that she sees parents tolerating disrespect from their children because they are worried about losing their kids' friendship.
"One of the reasons parents don't say 'no' is that they see their role as a friend and friends don't say 'no'," Manning says. "If you see yourself as your child's friend rather than their parent, then it's very difficult to put those boundaries in place."
But the good news is that there is no evidence to suggest that loving but firm parenting breaks the parent-child bond. In fact, in might just be the foundation for a healthier and more respectful relationship with your children when they reach adulthood.
Kasey Edwards is a writer and best-selling author. www.kaseyedwards.com
When did over-scheduling become a sign of good parenting? by Kasey Edwards, interview with Georgina Manning
When it comes to the pursuit of extra-curricular activities, parental anxieties run deep.
It's not unusual for kids to do lessons such as ballet, martial arts, gymnastics, maths tutoring, football, tennis, piano, chess, drama or cricket, every afternoon after school. Some kids do multiple classes on the same day.
"We all want to be the best parents we can, but we need to look at our definition of success," writes Kasey Edwards. I know kids who don't make it home before 7pm every night of the week. And then they're doing more classes or formal sport on the weekend. Despite research showing that homework for young kids does not deliver the imagined academic benefits, parents demand it from schools.
And then some insist their kids do even more work by setting their own homework and taking them to private maths and English classes. Even pre-school children are being sent to private tutors. Extra-curricular activities have become an arms race. We fear that our children will miss out or be left behind. We don't want our kid to be the only child who can't do a cartwheel, shoot a ball into a hoop, play Bach's English and French Suites on the piano or do multiplication in Prep.
And it's a con. Parents have been guilted into believing that more extra curricular activities equals better; that cramming as much knowledge, skills and experience into our children as early as possible is synonymous with good parenting. On the contrary, over-scheduling kids is a recipe for increasing childhood anxiety.
Director of Wellbeing for Kids, Georgina Manning, says that she has seen a dramatic increase in anxiety and emotional distress in children in recent years. "Rushing children around and filling every spare moment of their lives with 'interesting' activities doesn't teach children how to manage stress. It just creates stressed out kids," says Manning, who is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist.
"Kids need to learn how to manage their own time, manage being on their own, manage boredom, and build their own interests for the sheer enjoyment of them - not for an outcome or achievement."
Still, it's not surprising that parents are rushing to sign their kids up to activities and classes. Even before we give birth, we are flooded with brochures displaying savvy marketing from companies cashing in on our parental anxieties. And it just doesn't let up. They pry open our wallets with talk of "brain development" and "self-esteem" and giving our kids a "head start."
What parent wouldn't want all those things for their kids? My first daughter was booked into swimming lessons when she was six-months old. She hated it. I hated it. And all she learned was to scream whenever she saw water. But I persisted with it because I thought that's just what good parents did.
Multinational tutoring giant Kumon boasts, "One father's love for his child led to supporting the dreams of children all over the world." Really? That may be their parents' dream but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that most kids would prefer to be dreaming about fairies and super-powers and building cloud castles in the sky than prime numbers and long division. And Kumon doesn't come cheaply. As Kumon Australia tells prospective franchisees, expect to rake in tens of thousands each month.
As a culture, we no longer value play for the sake of play. We don't have time for the wonder of childhood anymore. How's a cloud castle going to get little Johnny a job? Unless we can turn the construction of the cloud castle into a mathematical problem, we consider it a waste of time.
If our children are allowed to play at all, then it needs to be structured, measured, expert-endorsed, adult-led, paid for learning dressed up as play. We've made the mistake of thinking that achievement and skill development will lead to wellbeing. And it is a mistake.
For starters, where are all these thriving genius children as a result of all this skill development hot-housing? We need only look at the increase in anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in our children to know that we are getting things wrong. Big time.
Manning says that if children are too busy to "play", then they don't get a chance to rest their brain and switch off the stress response.
"Ideally, children should experience 'flow' most days. Flow is when they totally lose track of time and have full engagement in enjoyable activities that don't necessarily have an outcome or are achievement-based, such as winning a game."
Examples of flow activities include: constructing Lego, drawing, creating or building something, playing with friends, imagination games, reading, sport that doesn't have a focus on winning, and crucially, activities instigated by the child, rather than adult-directed.
And what if the child does excel at piano or the arts? Are achievement-oriented parents really going to be happy if their child pursues a career where the median income from musical work in Australia is between $7,000–$8,000?
Or will they be happy for their child to pursue a winner-takes-all career in athletics where they peak in their 20s, after which it's downhill?
Rejecting the parental pressure to focus on our children's achievement is difficult. We fear that not pushing our kids or maximising their experiences will somehow impair their university options, or their income as adults. We all want to be the best parents we can, but we need to look at our definition of success.
Surely the best job a parent can do is to give their children a childhood that is calm and happy, where they are free to explore who they are, make mistakes, have fun, and learn how to be kind and well-rounded people.
Kasey Edwards is a writer and best-selling author.
'Mummy, the year is going so quickly': Should we be rushing our kids? by Kasey Edwards, interview with Georgina Manning
“The year is going so quickly,” remarked my daughter. I couldn’t disagree with her, but still, I was shocked by the words coming out of her mouth. She’s ten for heaven’s sake!
Childhood is supposed to feel like it stretches on forever. The gap between the two Annual Chocolate Festivals (aka Easter and Christmas) used to feel interminable.
Children are now lamenting the speed of time. But now my daughter tells me last Christmas feels like yesterday. Is her childhood being ruined? Lamenting the speed of time was only supposed to happen when you got old. It turns out, it’s not just my daughter who is concerned about the perception of time. According to educational and developmental psychologist Deborah Jepsen from Melbourne Child Psychology & School Psychology Services, even if you haven’t heard your child express it directly, they still could be feeling it.
“Kids will express it by saying how quickly the term has gone, or say, ‘It’s already the end of term!’ ” Jepsen says. Scientists have advanced a number of reasons for the perception that life is speeding up. These include the slowing of our “internal clocks” like metabolism and heart rate as we age, which makes time seem to go faster, or a reduction in the amount of information our brains process in later years.
These theories about ageing and the perception of time make me feel like I’m on the express route to a nursing home. I’m 43 and it feels like we should still be in April. But what does it say about our kids and the world we have created for them? We can’t blame this one on genes and biology.
Georgina Manning, director of Wellbeing For Kids says that children are feeling as though their lives are very rushed, and rushing adds to the perception that time is speeding up. “Children are often being rushed from one thing to the next without any down time to just 'be' and slow down and live in the moment,” she says.
“Rather than ‘being’, children are often in 'doing mode', moving from one task to the next, often on autopilot, creating a sense of urgency which can trigger children’s stress response. '
“Being hurried from one activity to the next each day, without this essential time for play must be exhausting and overstimulating with no time left to process the day, reflect and make sense of our day's experiences,” Manning says.
In addition to over-scheduling our kids, Sophi Bruce from The School of Life blames the sense some children feel of time rushing by on overstimulating and overloading our kids with too much information from devices, and constant interruptions from online messages, adverts, banners, and likes.
“As children’s brains are being stimulated at a quicker rate, their brain becomes used to being stimulated but can’t actually handle the level of information so it is in a greater cycle of trying to catch up,” Bruce says.
Does it actually matter that our kids feel like time is flying by them? There's no doubt that a large part of my shock in hearing my daughter’s comments came from nostalgia for my own childhood and the “good old days”. As a parent you wonder do we really have to add our children’s perception of time to our long lists of things we have to worry about?
According to Bruce, we would benefit from putting down our own generational lenses on time and letting go of comparing our childhoods to that of our children’s. But if the pace of life is having negative consequences on our children’s wellbeing then we shouldn’t ignore it.
“It’s problematic if children display signs of stress or withdrawal due to feeling overwhelmed or have negative perceptions of themselves in terms of what they can’t achieve (a distorted sense of time gives us a distorted sense of success),” says Bruce.
Psychologist Jepsen suggests parents dial back the scheduling and planning and try to spend a little more time enjoying the ‘now’. “If we focus too much on the next step, the next term, the next event we can create anxiety in our kids by overthinking,” she says.
Bruce suggests parents think about the lessons they are teaching their children about time through their own behaviour and language. Constantly telling kids "there’s not enough time", "we’re late", and "we haven’t got all day" sends the message to our kids that life is moving too fast.
One answer might be found in our own childhood: long stretches of boredom where our parents did not feel compelled to entertain us, improve us, or pay other adults to cram as much knowledge and skills into us as possible were common for many of us. “Boredom slows down time and opens up opportunity for creativity,” Bruce says.
It seems counter intuitive in these times of uber-competitive education, status anxiety, and the frenzy of tutoring and extracurricular activities, but what our kids actually need from us is less, not more.
Kasey Edwards is the author of the children's series The Chess Raven Chronicles under the pen name Violet Grace.
Listen to children’s concerns and feelings
It can be normal for children to feel anxious before going back to school for a new year. There are new faces, new teachers, new routines, new expectations and classroom environments. This appropriate anxiety response can be managed by helping children talk about what they are worried about. Try to name the emotion your child is feeling and help them to identify what it is they are worried about. Naming the emotion for your child helps them to ‘tame’ the emotion. Just by talking about how they are feeling and having an adult name the emotion for them, can be very helpful and soothing. We don’t need to jump into problem solving for our children, a more helpful strategy is to just listen and try to understand how your child is feeling and what they are worried about. Just talking about it and having their feelings and concerns validated, is often enough. If there is a problem to be solved, this can be tackled after your child has talked about how they are feeling and shared their worries.
Get back into a routine
Routines are vital for children as it helps give a sense of safety and predictability. Start getting up early again at least a week before school starts to help get their sleep back into a good routine. Turn off screens at least an hour before bed followed by a nightly routine such as doing a relaxing activity followed by a bath, reading or being read to and then sleep. There are so many children who go to school exhausted through lack of sleep or good quality sleep, often due to screens before bed, constant notifications and screen time through the night (yes even some 8 year old’s are getting up and checking devices) and also a lack of wind down time each day. A daily wind down activity is not only vital to relax and brain and body, but can be a great bonding time as well. Board games, jigsaw puzzles, Lego or colouring in are great examples of wind down nighttime activities that all members of the family can do together.
Create visuals for routines
If children become familiar with what needs to be done each day and getting things prepared, helps take out some of the daily stressors, particularly getting back to school. Kids love visuals to help them know what to do each day so have fun creating a list they can decorate and stick up in their rooms of all the things that need to be done each morning and night. Younger children respond well to pictures/drawings as well as words (older children can create their own written lists). There will be more success of children independently completing their daily tasks if they have ‘buy in’ from the beginning by helping to nut out what needs to be done so the day runs smoothly. Things on the list for night-time (depending on age) can be things like getting out school clothes ready for the next day, homework done, reader/homework in bag and brushing their teeth. In the morning examples can be things like getting dressed, brushing teeth and packing their school bag with lunch. Help your child refer to their checklist so they can start to manage their daily tasks independently instead of nagging and yelling to get things done. If they need reminding, guide them to look at their list and ask them what else needs to be done, rather than telling them what to do. Use a calendar to mark in important days such as sports days or excursions so they know what is coming up and can prepare for it.
Allow enough time in the morning to get everything done. The more that can be done the night before will help to ease the stress in the mornings. Rushing can activate the stress response and is unnecessary if things are planned for in advance. Lunches made the night before with help from your child, eliminates this stress in the morning. Have school clothes and shoes out ready to just pop on instead of madly rushing around trying to find the right socks or clean uniform, which only creates nagging and stress. Having as much packed the night before is also helpful. Having this checked off the night before on their visual ‘to do’ list helps children to feel more in control of their day to day tasks. Having a relaxing breakfast, even if isn’t for too long, can be a great start to the day. Rushing while eating sets our children up for feeling stressed by the time they get to school.
For younger children it is helpful if they can practice packing their school bag, putting on their school jumper, taking the lid of the drink bottle and tying school laces. Yes, this can seem a bit unnecessary but there are lots of children who struggle to unpack their lunch and take on and off jumpers at school which causes unnecessary stress. If your child is transitioning to a new school, new campus or environment or is starting ride their bike, or catching public transport for the older children, then do a few practice runs beforehand. Go on the bus or train with them back and forth or ride the bike with them beforehand so they feel comfortable with their new routine.
A few visits
If your child is particularly anxious about going back to school, take some time to go past the school or if the school is open, spend time playing on the equipment. Having fun and relaxation around the school will help children to feel familiar again with their school and associate this with fun and positivity. Often children can build things up in their mind to be much worse than they really are, so visiting the school can help to ally these fears. Having a school friend that will be in their class over for a play before school starts can help to ease back into the new school year. Children can feel particularly anxious about who is going to be in their class, who they will be sitting next to you or playing with at lunchtime. Making an action plan of who is taking your child to school and letting your child know where you will be picking them up will ease some of the unknowns for very anxious children.