Back to school: ensuring your child’s wellbeing

It’s that time of year again.

As we get closer to the return of school and the “Back to School” advertisements flash up in the stores, it is natural to see a change in kids and adolescents. For some, they are hyped up and ready to return to school, whilst others are keen to string out their holidays for as long as possible. There is no right or wrong way for a child or adolescent to react in regards to returning to school.

Most adults would prefer to be on holidays than return to their place of work, so what makes kids any different?

Many students have stated they are concerned when returning to school because they have to complete work that is harder than the previous year, as they are now in the next year level. On some level, the majority of children do look forward to returning to school even if they do not verbalise this.

It may be to see their friends again, find out what subjects they are doing or to see who their teacher/s is or are. However, issues with school attendance or “school refusal” has become prominent in the last few years. As a psychologist that also works in a school, I see a range of tell-tale signs when a child is not happy at school.

How can I tell if my child is not happy at school?

Behaviours to watch out for include:

  • Flat out refusal to go to school Arguments or tantrums at school and home
  • Defiance at home or school
  • Bed-wetting
  • Teary or expressing anger in unusual situations
  • Leaving school or truanting
  • Complaining of having no friends
  • Negative comments about themselves academically, socially or physically

What can I do?

To best assist our young people, there are a few things that we can do to assist them, these include:

  • Set some time aside where neither of you are busy or distracted to discuss either the changes in them or the reasons they dislike school
  • Encourage open and honest communication from the child or adolescent
  • Do not dismiss their concerns and acknowledge what they are saying
  • Come up with some ideas together which may make school more bearable
  • Potentially make a goal for them whilst they are at school
  • Check back in with them after a few days to see how school is going

Where do I go from here?

If after trying the above, the child or adolescent is still showing distress when returning to school and you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to give Clear Health Psychology Floreat a call on 08 6424 8177.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you and your child/adolescent their school experience and to come up with some strategies together that will better assist them during their time at school.

Written by: Jon Marginis – Psychologist BSc(Psych), MPsych(Counselling Psychology)