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Back to School: Strategies for Coping with Feelings

Helping you and your child cope with feelings about going back to school.

Lots of children and young people have told us that they are worried about schools returning. This might include your child. Your child might have experienced less stress when schools were closed and now they are worried about going back. It might be your child is anxious about COVID-19 and needs support to cope with anxiety ready for schools to return.

Extra challenges your child may be facing going back to school:

  • Worry about bullying or prejudice
  • Adapting to changes in the way schools operate
  • Past experiences of trauma, adversity and loss
  • Anxieties about family or home circumstances which might disrupt sleep or routines
  • Separation anxiety
  • Starting at a new school or college

Thankfully, there are lots of strategies to cope with these feelings that you can develop and practice with your child. These are techniques that are designed to help when your child is feeling intense emotions.

Anxiety

Use the image to talk about anxiety. There are some examples of what anxiety may be like for you child. Use the blank bubbles for any other feelings they are experiencing.

Diagram of what anxiety can feel like

Grounding techniques

A grounding technique is a coping strategy for managing intense feelings and emotions. These techniques help to ‘ground’ us, which means they help us to notice the present moment we are in.

When we focus on our present moment this can reduce the intensity of the emotions and feelings we might be having. We focus less intensely on the future or on the past.

Each person is unique and will find different techniques that they like.

Discuss the suggestions with your child and practise the ones that they like. It is best to practise these techniques when your child is calm and practise them regularly. If the techniques have been regularly practised, then your child is more likely to remember them and use them when they feel intense emotions.

Mind, Physical and Soothing Strategies

Some techniques help because they ‘bring us up’ when our mood is low (upregulation). Other techniques help because they ‘bring us down’ or calm us when our mood is high, agitated or restless (downregulation).

Mind-based strategies for dealing with anxiety

Physical sensation strategies

Physical sensation strategies for dealing with anxiety

Soothing strategies

Soothing strategies for dealing with anxiety

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