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Wild weather, Covid adding to kids’ back to school anxiety

Wild weather, Covid adding to kids’ back to school anxiety

 

Wild weather events and a surge in Covid cases could lead to more kids experiencing back-to-school anxiety and even school refusal, a therapy service for young people has warned.

Youthrive is encouraging parents and guardians to check in with their children before their first day of the new school year and to look out for signs they may be anxious.

While a new teacher or classmates are usually the common stressors for kids at this time, Youthrive Chief Operating Officer Amy Turner explained they may be worried about other recent events in their lives.

“Many families impacted by severe storms in Southeast Queensland and Cyclone Jasper in the Far North are still recovering, and the stress from that can weigh heavily on kids,” she said.

“This is on top of challenging times families are already facing with cost-of-living pressures.

“In recent years there has been a lot of change, uncertainty and there is a lot of worry in the general community at the moment – we need to remember that kids aren’t immune to that.”

Rates of school refusal in Australia have increased following Covid-19 disruptions and many children dealing with this are often diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

“Covid has changed how kids think about school,” Amy said.

“During lockdowns, they had a lot of time doing schoolwork from home and I think a lot more kids feel comfortable refusing to go to school now.”

Youthrive says it is important parents and guardians listen to their children if they are feeling anxious about school or are refusing to attend.

“The biggest determining factor in being able to help is having a good relationship with the young person and having people around them that can support, look after and guide them,” Amy said.

“Kids need to be able to talk about how they are feeling and people need to listen to them.”

 

Youthrive recommends taking these steps to provide comfort and alleviate any concerns when school returns:

 

  • Talk to your child about returning to school – listen to any of their concerns and acknowledge the
    feelings they may have about starting the school year.
  • If your child is refusing to attend, try to understand what barriers are preventing them from doing so
    and explore ways to remove those.
  • Make sure your child knows how and where they can get help at school.
  • Set a weekday routine now to ensure kids are getting into the right mindset in preparation for their
    return.
  • More support is available:
    • Kids Helpline – Call 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day)
    • Beyond Blue – Call 1300 22 4636 (24 hours a day)
    • Youthrive – To connect with a range of therapy services visit: www.youthrive.com.au