How Gratitude can Help with Back to School Anxiety
Parents… I’ve been there, too! It sometimes feels like you’re the only one having trouble or a hard time with something. I can guarantee you’re not alone, especially when it comes to back to school anxiety. Children are feeling pressured to fit in, they're feeling judged, nervous or unsure and they’re comparing their sweet selves to others. There are so many emotions, and when it begins to affect large amounts of families, it gets considered as ‘common’.
However, there is nothing common about childhood anxiety. Let’s ensure we don’t make it the norm! With this growing concern, I wanted to chat about three ways gratitude can benefit your family, and how to use it to turn back to school into a more positive experience.
1. Gratitude encourages you to look for the good!
I’m not saying it will be easy, especially on the tough days, but gratitude can help turn a bad day into a good day if you let it. Search for the good, the silver lining or the lesson and truly be thankful for it. “Every day may not be good, but there’s good in every day” says it perfectly. Not sure where to get started? See below!
Here are a few things your family can express gratitude for: Your home, food, clothing, a neighbour, friend or teacher, the sun, nature, your family pet. Keep it simple! Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring out the most joy. Start with the simple things that quickly come to mind and watch as you begin to find gratitude in all aspects of your life.
Help your child actively look for the good and truly feel and experience the joy of what they DO have, rather than what they DON’T have. Is your child upset they only have one friend? Ask them to list all the reasons why they’re grateful for that one friend. Is your child scared as they transition to a new school? Have them create a list of all the exciting new experiences to come at the new school. Focus on the good!
2. Gratitude keeps you in the present!
How can we truly be happy when we’re busy being upset over the past or fearing tomorrow and the future? Ultimately, all fear does is rob us of today’s happiness. Instead, if we focus on gratitude for where we are and what we have today, we will then begin to experience joy and peace. Gratitude encourages mindfulness and being present, one day at a time.
Help your child focus on and find the good about TODAY, and do not put pressure on tomorrow. Use a journal to create gratitude lists or check out my guided children's journal The Making of a Grateful Heart !
3. Gratitude teaches you to appreciate… YOU!
Children (along with adults) are comparing themselves to others instead of being grateful for who and what they are. Let’s not waste our time and energy being anything we aren’t. Encourage your child to embrace all that makes them special and unique because a. It would be boring if we were all the same, and b. They were created to be different!
With your child, write out all the great qualities and things that are unique to them and make them who they are. Remind them the world needs them as they are! Also, ensure your child doesn’t see or hear you comparing yourself to others… they are always watching and listening.
As parents, we need to get excited about the things we want our children to be excited about. They’re constantly observing, so if your words and actions aren’t lining up – they’ll know! Keep a positive attitude, show gratitude, look for the good, lend a listening ear, be patient and encourage them to stay active and be kids!
Sometimes we miss the signs of anxiety in children, and if your kids are anything like mine it’s hard to get more than one-word answers.
So, I’ve put together a few common signs of anxiety in children to watch for:
- Poor focus
- Refusal to go to school
- Difficulty sleeping
- Change in eating habits
For more information you can visit Anxiety Canada
Back to school can be fun, not just for our children, but for adults. Let’s embrace the transition, although it’s sometimes hectic and messy, and be thankful our children have the opportunity to learn and grow. School should be a safe learning playground, let’s help our children to see that, too. A reminder to look for the good, and to patiently help your child to as well!
All the best, I hope you enjoy practicing gratitude as a family!
(This post is not to act as a substitute for medical care. If your child is experiencing severe anxiety or depression, please consult your family physician.)