School has begun and that means a lot of new adjustments- new classes, different friends, and greater academic challenges.
Some kids seem to flow through these changes flawlessly while others may struggle to find their footing.
Don’t miss the signs your child may be giving you that this school year is challenging them physically and emotionally.
Author, licensed clinical counselor, and child anxiety specialist Rhonda C. Martin says there are red flags that alert a parent that your child may be unhappy in school.
Let’s take a look at some of the behaviors you may think are random acts but offer more insight into your child’s psyche than expected.
1. Mysterious ailments
A classic excuse for children to get out of an undesired event is to say “my tummy hurts.”
While kids may actually have a stomach ache for one of many reasons (I told them not to eat a third piece of pizza!), it is unlikely that they only get one when you are asking them to do something.
Whether the ailment is real or brought on by internalizing the anxiety of school, check in with your child about what may be going on beneath the surface.
Come up with a plan of action to help them have a more seamless transition into the new school year.
Try role playing how to make friends, fidget toys, or walking through the school after hours to familiarize them with the daily routine.
2. New habits
Martin told CBS News that children who struggle from a loss of control during the school day are likely to create rituals and routines that “must” be followed.
Does your child ask for two books specifically before bed, and insists that they must be read after brushing teeth but before prayers?
Children do thrive on routines and you may have done a specific daily routine for years so they know what to expect.
But if your child develops their own ritual or routine that is separate from the daily grind then they may be trying to tell you something.
3. Junk food binges
We all have been guilty of ‘eating our feelings.’ The concept refers to when we consume foods in an effort to boost our mood or deal with emotional distress.
Kids do the same thing, they just aren’t aware of it. Martin warns that a sudden increase in your child’s desire for foods that are white flour or white sugar based may indicate that they are trying to address excessive stress chemicals.
Maintaining a healthy diet of protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is still the best diet for your child, even when all they feel like eating is pizza and chicken fingers.
4. Endless sibling rivalry
Every sibling has their tiffs every now and again; it’s a rite of passage. But when the occasional argument turns into a constant battle it is not normal.
According to CBS News “Most children become more amiable and cooperative when they have a structured schedule with predictable events.”
Every parent has definitely seen that children tend to act out more when we stay up too late, skip morning book reading, or decide to go out early for dinner rather than eating at home.
If the siblings can’t stop fighting over the blocks, tv channel, and anything else they can possibly think of then it’s time to have a conversation about what’s happening at school.
5. Not sleeping well after three weeks of school
Children (and moms) will undoubtedly need to adjust to a school schedule after months of summer late night movies and lounging around the pool all day.
However, that adjustment shouldn’t take more than three weeks, according to Martin, at which time they should be used to falling asleep at a certain time.
Getting adequate sleep is essential for your child to have a stable mood, appropriate focus in school, and a healthy body.
Make sure you have a good bedtime routine that your children can count on to get them in the mood for sleep, such as a shower, reading, and prayers.
All kids will deal with the stress of school in their own way. Be patient with your child as they switch back to the high demands of a structured daily routine.
If you do notice some of these red flags in your child don’t delay having the tough conversations to see how they are adjusting.
Ask about teachers, friends, bullies, and homework to get a feel of where the problem area is, because they may not be able to identify it themselves.
(h/t Mommy Underground)