There is a lot for children to absorb at the start of a school year.

From changing friendship groups to new teachers and classrooms, many of your child’s experiences will be different to last year.

Some children will adapt quickly to change but others may lack confidence and optimism.

New teacher styles

New teacher styles can be a sticking point for some children. Just as we all learn in different ways, each teacher will take a different approach in the classroom.

Some children will not notice this difference but, for many, it can be overwhelming and a cause of anxiety. This may be apparent instantly or over time.

If change is bothering your child, what can you do?

  • Listen to your child! Try not to disregard the little things which can be big issues for them. Encourage them to express their worries and how they think you can help.
  • Ask them about the good things at school, such as the best part of their day or a fun fact they learned. This will help them focus on the positives.
  • Children do best at school when parents and teachers work together. Open and effective communication is critical. Work with your child’s teacher and let them know about any problems or concerns your child has.
  • Encourage your child to talk to their teacher. This will help build trust and your child’s sense of security in the classroom.
  • Always reassure young people they are not alone and that problems can be worked out.

Friendship groups

Group dynamics often change at school and during the holidays. Friends may play together at recess and lunch but move in different social circles outside of school.

As a parent, watching your child grapple with friendships is very difficult – and hard to fix!

It is confusing and often painful for children if they are omitted from weekend playdates or groups at school one moment and then included the next.

Be understanding and try and give them some advice without saying too much. This is a normal developmental stage so reassure them it is ok to be sad and that it will get better with time as friendships evolve.

A changing group dynamic is different to bullying, which is repeated verbal, emotional or physical abuse intended to hurt, frighten or threaten another.

Tips for kids on forming friendships:

  • Always try and be pleasant and well mannered, even to people you may not hang out with.
  • Talk to others and be interested in what they do! You might find you share interests and hobbies, play the same sports and like similar music.
  • Listen to what others say and join in the conversation.
  • Be helpful and friendly – doing things for others and lending a helping hand goes a long way!
  • Be mindful of others’ feelings. Don’t talk about them behind their back. Every person is different!
  • Avoid arguments with people if they don’t agree with you on certain things. Try and understand their point of view and be honest about your own feelings.
  • Be a good listener and encourage them to make positive choices.
  • Understand that close friendships take time to develop and, while it’s good to have a best friend, you can have lots of other friends too.
  • Have fun together!

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*If you need extra support, Centacare provides counselling to parents, families and children, and primary and secondary school students. Other support is provided through the National School Chaplaincy Program. For more information, please phone 8215 6700.