It is the halfway point between summer and when school begins, and I know many parents are eager for August to arrive. What I have noticed is many children and teens are not ready to return. It’s not for the reasons one might expect, like sleeping in, later curfew, or less responsibilities.
Many students have worries about school that are beginning to show up now. Homework, pressure, college, GPA, workload, and schedule are among some of the concerns. But for many children, it goes beyond the logistics.
Social anxiety among youth is at its highest. It comes in many forms from being left out to being directly targeted by peers and anything in between. It is a real life daily struggle for some children, and the worry about it can begin as early as now.
The thought of burying oneself in a book during lunch time or hiding out in the library is a reality for many teens and children. They think they are the only one who is feeling this ostracization but I can assure you, they are not.
Middle school and high school can be lonely places for those not enmeshed in a clique. Even for those with a group, it can feel just as lonely going along with the crowd when who they really are is unable to show.
It is important for kids to have a safe place to talk about their experiences and really be heard and honored for what they would like to happen. A teen’s parent going to talk with the principal may not be the approach their child would want. Maybe they simply want their parent to listen. Talk with your child about what they are needing.
Sometimes kids just need time to process their experiences. As a parent, you can empower them to take the right steps in dealing with the anxiety peer groups or lack thereof can bring. See if there is anyone on campus who your child feels supported by and encourage them to talk with them.
Obviously if teasing is moving to bullying, it is crucial to talk with your child and the school about what is occurring. Lastly, encourage your kid to join a social group at school and if the school is not providing one, encourage them to get one. Another place to locate social groups for kids in the community is at Psychology Today. There are also other social groups to consider, including art, chess, spanish, and yoga classes to name a few.
I can help my child each day by simply listening.