The new school year triggers a range of emotions for children. While many will find this an exciting time, others may be worried and scared about what lies ahead.
While the focus is traditionally on the first day of school, families are encouraged to keep an eye out for their kids as they settle into new classes, routines and friendship groups in the coming weeks.
Today we look at sleep, and the impact of loss and change.
*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.
It is not too late to get your child back on track at bedtime! Sleep is pivotal for learning, growth and development.
Adjust your child’s bedtime now to ensure they get enough sleep to cope with the emotional and physical demands of the new year.
This may take longer if their regular sleep patterns have been significantly disrupted over recent weeks.
Going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier may help to settle and prepare them for the following school day.
Remember that, for junior primary-aged children in particular, adapting to new experiences takes a lot of energy and can be super tiring.
If they are grumpy, be patient and influence what you can control. For example, make sure your child has a regular – and calm and quiet – bedtime routine.
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Loss and change
It is not unusual for children to experience loss and change during the holiday period. A close school friend may have moved away, or they may have lost a loved one through death, illness and marriage separation.
Even positive things, such as moving house or the birth of a sibling, can bring about big change.
Children are likely to show their feelings through actions rather than words.
Change and crisis may result in your child losing interest in school or hobbies, behavioural problems, sleep disturbance and poor concentration.
What can you do?
- Connect with your children, take interest in how they are travelling and note any changes in behaviour. If possible, try and maintain their usual routine as this will help them feel safe and secure.
- Listen! Children can have their own crises, no matter how small a problem may seem from the outside. Work together to formulate strategies to help manage their worries and anxiety.
- Be clear that, as a parent, it is your job to take responsibility of problems, and it is their job to learn and play.
- Talk to a school counsellor and let them know what is going on at home to ensure your child gets the support they need at school.
- Even if you are sad, be mindful of the impact your emotions may have on your children. It is important that they feel safe and secure through acceptance, reassurance, understanding and support.
- Talk to children about what is happening and about your own feelings. If you’re upset, tell them, but let them know you are working hard to fix what is causing sadness. Children learn how to cope by watching their parents react in similar situations.
- Ensure they have plenty of food, fun and rest.