When to seek extra support
Hopefully by now you have plenty of ideas to support your child in their return to school, but you may still be wondering if it’s enough. So let’s consider when it might be most appropriate to seek extra support.
It is important to remember that anxiety is a normal feeling, and it plays a very important role in keeping us safe. It is natural for children to be feeling anxious in the run-up to school! Anxiety is “the expectation of something bad happening” (John Piacentini, 2016). Where anxiety becomes problematic is when children feel a real sense of danger when they are in fact perfectly safe, or when the anxiety (or attempts to avoid the anxiety) has an impact on their ability to function. If your child is avoiding things which they enjoy doing, or is exhibiting behaviours which are concerning or out of the ordinary (not sleeping, eating, refusing to go to school, isolating themselves, complaining of frequent stomach aches or headaches, etc), it may be time to seek assistance with the issue. Check in with your GP and check out www.iaptp.ie and www.iahip.org where you can find play therapists and child and adolescent psychotherapists in your area. There are excellent behaviour support services available also, such as www.reachchildrens.com.
Most importantly, be easy on yourself and on the little ones, too. We are all figuring this thing out together, and children are looking to the grown-ups to see how we are feeling about this big change! Let’s show them safety, reassurance and compassion. You’ve got this.
My top recommendation at this time is a book by an Irish Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Malie Coyne. “Love In, Love Out: A Compassionate Approach to Parenting your Anxious Child” is a beautifully written book which guides parents through an evidence-based and compassionate approach through supporting your child through their anxiety. There are many resources inside this book which might be helpful in navigating the back-to-school transition!
The Whole Brain Child, by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel & Dr Tina Payne Bryson
The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears, by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen
Raising a Secure Child, by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell
Piacentini, J. (2016) ‘Recognizing and Treating Problematic Fear and Anxiety in Children’, Youtube, Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQnKJvuWXf8
Eleanor is a Child and Adult Psychotherapist and Play Therapist at her private practice. After years of working as a Social Care Worker and SNA, Eleanor felt that play was the missing piece in her work (and life!). Jumping back into third level education, Eleanor recently finished her MA in Creative Psychotherapy! During her training, Eleanor also became a mother to her now 2 year old daughter and has since developed a strong interest in empowering and supporting parents.