The idea of going back to school can bring waves of panic for both you and your child. You might want to pretend the first day of school will never happen. Trust me I get it! But there are things we can do in advance to prepare our kids to lessen the likelihood of school refusal. In this week’s AT Parenting Survival Podcast I talk about some common anxiety and OCD themes that create school refusal and how to work on them before it becomes an issue for next school year.
For some kids there is a growing feeling of dread and doom as the first day of school looms closer. Is your child nervous to go back to school? They are not alone.
There is one thing I consistently hear about in my therapy practice. Homeschooling. Not in a warm fuzzy way. But in a desperate, this needs to happen sort of way. It is very common for many kids to demand to be homeschooled due to anxiety.
There are three words that can stop a parenting raising an anxious kid dead in their tracks. Back. to. School. Gulp. Going back to school is almost a universal struggle for those of us raising anxious kids.
Anxious kids have a hard time transitioning. They have a hard time separating, they have a hard time with stomach upset. All of which goes into high gear the minute school starts up again. The good news is there are some things you can do proactively to make the first day and the first months to come – more successful.
Anxiety loves avoidance. It feeds off avoidance. It grows bigger, strong and more ferocious with avoidance. So it is no wonder that anxiety will make going to school one of the most difficult things an anxious child can do. The sad reality is – the more a child avoids school, the more they will fear going to school. It is a vicious cycle that many anxious kids can’t seem to stop. So how do you help when a child refuses to go to school? The key is in explaining how anxiety works. Explaining what feeds anxiety. Teaching them how anxiety grows bigger and stronger when it is fed delicious avoidance.
Sarah sits at the back of the room. Her face has gone pale. Her hands are getting clammy. The teacher hands out the test. She feels nauseous, confused. The room starts to spin. She runs out of the room. The teacher stares at the empty seat. What just happened? OCD and Anxiety in school are often an unnoticed or mislabeled issue.
They are the quiet kids who are afraid to raise their hands. The aggressive kids who are feeling cornered and trapped. The perfectionistic kids who never hand in work because it’s not perfect. They are the kids that don’t participate, are frequently absent and know the nurse by her first name.
It’s another school day. Which means another stomach ache. Another battle of wills. Lots of tears. Lots of threats. Eat Dinner. Go to bed. Repeat. Why is your child constantly clutching their stomach? Why are they paralyzed with fear and…heartburn. Unfortunately stomach pain and anxiety like to hang out together and I mean – often. They are best friends and they like to team up against your child.