Closer (UK)


Children up and down the country are finding the return tough, asking if they can carry on with homeschool, complainin­g of tummy aches and getting tearful. Emma says they need patience


eparation anxiety is developmen­tally normal, but usually passes quickly. Unfortunat­ely, for the past year a great deal of children’s resilience has been broken down where school is concerned; they have grown used to having parents around and learning from the comfort of their homes.


Children who struggled with school have felt safe away from bullies and comforted by a parent who can help them with their academic struggles. Others have missed their friends, but grown fearful of school. They have been told it’s safe, but it isn’t as simple as flicking a switch; school requires masks, social-distancing and testing, which understand­ably makes a place that should feel safe and fun, feel the opposite.


This is why you need to be more compassion­ate with your complainin­g and upset child than ever before. Some children will refuse to get into the car for the school run, others will cling to you when they arrive at the gates, others may feel sick or get headaches. They stem from genuine emotional distress and require a calm and loving approach. Use nostalgia as a tool to connect your child with happier times at school. Ask them to think about fun events, and classmates’ parties that remind them of the good aspects. Make a trusted teacher aware of your child’s anxiety, so they can check on your child’s emotional wellbeing. Share experience­s of times you’ve felt nervous about situations, such as starting a job, or doing public speaking, to show how normal these feelings are.


At the end of every school day, have a treat planned, such as snuggling up with a hot chocolate watching their favourite cartoon. This will mean they start to associate school with really lovely events. After a long period of disruption, it will take time for your child to get fully back into the swing of things, but the more they are exposed to the environmen­t they fear, the more they will build their confidence and resilience towards it.

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