A New School Year

 

Back to School Road Sign

Back to School

It’s the beginning of a new school year and this can bring with it a mixture of anticipation, excitement, anxiety and stress for parents and students alike.  Far away from what might have been a relaxed, unstructured Summer break for the students, the new school year brings new faces, homework, and structured, scheduled activities. 

Some tips for getting back into the school routine, physically and emotionally!

1.       The benefits of a good night’s sleep for all of us can help energise and focus us for the day ahead.  Sleep is also key to ensuring our memory consolidates, by helping different pieces of information we have learned in the day to come together.  Talking with your child about the benefits of sleep and how this can help them physically and emotionally may be useful, as will getting back into meal and bedtime routines at least a week before school starts.

 2.       With every new school year can come a fresh start.  A chance to take on new opportunities and set new goals.  Discussing and setting some goals with your child perhaps about activities they would like to be involved in, or how they would like to develop can be a helpful start to the school year.

 3.       For any anxious child, helping them get to know the setting of the school (if it is a new one) can help.  Even if it is not possible to visit inside the school beforehand, walking around the surrounding area can be reassuring. Visualise with your child the new classroom experience being successful, and encourage them to visualise themselves feeling calm and confident as they meet other students and new teachers.

It is not at all unusual for children to feel worried about the beginning of the new school year, particularly if he or she is also having to make a transition into a different school.  After a few days or weeks, any anxiety should lessen, but if it continues, then speaking to a form teacher can be a good first step to seeing how best to support your child.  Alternatively, seeing a counsellor within the school or externally can provide additional support. 

www.pacecounselling.co.uk

 

 

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Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty Nest Syndrome is the name given to the feeling of sadness that can affect parents when their children have left home.  It is certainly natural to feel a bit low when your children first leave home. Often there is a big build up to them leaving with so much to be done. Once they have gone, it can suddenly hit you and the house can feel very empty and quiet. One Mum in her late fifties describes how she felt when her last son left home.

“The thing I found most strange was the tidiness of the house. Nothing moved during the day, and although this was nice it was also quite a lonely feeling. I do remember moving things around just to make the space feel lived in.”

If you are feeling a bit sad when your children have left, it’s really good to talk to other people about how you feel. You will soon come to realise that you are not alone with your feelings and it is reassuring to know that other parents are also feeling a bit miserable and slightly redundant. For women this time can often coincide with the menopause when emotions are already running amok and this combined with other commitments such as work, home and perhaps dealing with elderly parents can leave women feeling very down. It can be a time of conflicting emotions and sometimes a fear that life is never going to be the same.

In this day and age it is easier to keep in touch with children once they have left and phoning, texting and emails can help regular contact which may feel more reassuring. However it is important to allow space between yourself and your child once they have left home, and not be concerned if they don’t reply straight away. Just remember, it’s quite natural to worry about them. You may miss their companionship and being a part of their daily lives but you can allow yourself to feel proud that your children have the confidence to leave home and “are on their way” wherever that may lead to in the future.

When your children have gone it’s important to think positively of this new phase in your life. You can spend more time doing things you enjoy and maybe take up a new interest and catch up with friends who you haven’t seen for a long time. Things won’t be quite the same but just because things are different it doesn’t have to mean not as good.  The Mum quoted earlier in this piece says that once she had adjusted to her children no longer being at home she felt differently.

“There are certainly now upsides and we do now enjoy having the house to ourselves but I definitely need to have plans in the diary to see the boys at regular intervals.”

Everyone will be different in how they cope with or react to their “Empty Nest.” You do need to give yourself time to adapt but if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions and you are feeling down and tearful, then it maybe that you do need a little support to guide you through this transitional time. If this is the case then a visit to your GP may help to talk things through and your GP may suggest some counselling.

 http://www.familylives.org.uk/

 Many thanks to Louise Convisser, freelance writer, for this article.

If you know anyone who is struggling emotionally with issues such as these or with other difficulties, counselling can provide a confidential space to talk things through. Please e-mail sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk or telephone Sharon Convisser on 07936 556314 for an appointment or initial discussion.

 

Counselling in Schools

School CounsellorWith the new school year starting, new routines, schedules, challenges, hopes and expectations all come with it.  Working as a counsellor in private practice and also with young people in a school setting, I see not only the pressures on young people of adjusting to these changes within school, but also their stress of managing emotional difficulties at home alongside their academic life.

Although there are a number of schools across the UK that provide a counselling service for their students, often with the assistance of a charitable organisation such as Place2be or the YMCA, there are unfortunately far too many schools that still do not have this provision.  There is a wealth of evidence that points to there being a need for mental health support in schools, as can be seen by the following statistics:

  • 1 in 10 children and young people (aged 5-16) suffer from a mental health disorder (i.e. around 3 children in every class) and many continue to have these problems into adulthood;
  • Between 1 in every 12 to 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm;
  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression. Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years;

(Sources: Green, H; McGinnit, A; Meltzer, H; et al. (2005) Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain 2004; Mental Health Foundation (2006) Truth Hurts)

There are times when it can be very confusing for a child to understand what is happening to them and express what they are feeling.  A school counselling service can play a vital role in providing young people with support to help them understand their emotions and develop ways of managing their difficulties at school and at home.   There is no doubt that if a child receives support for mental health distress at an early age, then they are less likely to suffer from serious mental health problems as they develop into adulthood.  In addition, from my own experience in working with young people, I can see clear indications of how promoting positive mental health can help improve attendance rates at school and reduce the level of student exclusion.

In the absence of a school counselling service, the next route for mental health support for a child or young person would be via the family General Practitioner, who can complete a referral to a specialist service such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).  There are also several agencies which are committed to providing advice and support for the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people, and some helpful links are at the bottom of this page.

One particular innovative organisation, Relax Kids, produces products and runs workshops for children to help them cope with stress.  The classes teach mindfulness and relaxation strategies for calming down and building their self-esteem.  Relax Kids is being used in some schools and private classes are run in various areas of the UK.

If you know of any child or young person who may benefit from emotional support for mental health difficulties, I would suggest a first step would be to see if any counselling provision is available within their school.  If not, contact via the GP or a referral to a private counsellor can help take things forward.

Sharon Convisser is a counsellor registered with the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.  Telephone  07936 556314 to arrange a free initial consultation or   e-mail sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk

Useful Links:

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/

http://www.childline.org.uk/

http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

http://www.relaxkids.com/

http://www.bacp.co.uk/