School Stress in Spotlight

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KIDS Helpline is encouraging parents to help kids tackle back to school stress by preparing them for the new year and paying close attention to their behaviour.

According to Kids Helpline Acting General Manager Tony Fitzgerald, while a new class or school can make children highly apprehensive, parental support will equip kids to deal with resulting stress.

“Parents are the key. They know their children better than anyone and will soon see if their kids need extra support at the start of the new school year,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“By helping their children prepare for change and keeping an eye out for behavioural changes, parents can make all the difference to how their school year begins and ends.

“Some kids may fear they won’t make new friends, others might not understand what a new school routine might mean.

“It can be particularly daunting for students moving to high school where they adapt to routine changes like a new room for each class and different teachers. They may also fear letting their parents down academically.”

Mr Fitzgerald said young people may also experience fears about new social situations involving older students, difficulty managing their time and disruption of previous peer relationships.

“Young people may appear anxious or frustrated and display negative or disruptive behaviour. This can make the transitioning process even more difficult for the young person,” he said.

“The most important thing you can do is let your child know that you trust them and keep communication open.”

Back to School preparation tips include:

– Practice the upcoming morning and bedtime routine a few days beforehand to help young people get into a regular pattern of sleeping and waking
– Ensure they eat breakfast each day to given them energy to focus on their studies
– Help them prepare for their new environment by providing the equipment they will need
– If your child is catching public transport to school or walking/cycling, help them get familiar with how they will get to and from school.

Tips for helping children through the school year include:

– Be available to discuss problems and help them think of ways to overcome these challenges
– Attend parent-teacher interviews to give you information on how the young person is going
– Encourage them to do homework and revise their in-class material so that they don’t fall behind in their academic progress
– Provide opportunities to develop their social networks by encouraging them to invite other students over to your home outside of school hours.

Kids Helpline, Australia’s only national children’s counselling service, provides 24/7 counselling services to young people aged 5 to 25 years – 1800 55 1800 orwww.kidshelp.com.au.

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