Kids dread returning to school for a number of reasons. Some kids worry about returning to school out of fear for facing their bullies, not being included in activities or social groups, or both. But what can parents do to help kids build mental strength, reduce anxiety, and avoid bullies and social distress?
Best-selling author, family therapist, TEDx speaker and Psychotherapist Jodi Aman, LCSW, has a few tips on how to help their kids navigate these onerous social experiences to mitigate their negative impact.
Here’s Jodi’s top tips to help parents prepare for their children returning to school when faced with anxiety and bullying:
- Go over some bullying scenarios with your kids and make them come up with ways to respond to each one. This brainstorming will open their problem-solving mind so when they are in a situation they will trust themselves and be able to think their way out, rather than freezing or doing something unsafe. Remind them where to go for help at school and that they can always talk to you when they get home.
- Let them know why kids bully. Just saying that “they are jealous” isn’t enough to understand why someone might be jealous. Explain that miserable people are mean because they don’t like themselves. Go over examples from TV or movies so they understand this concept. This will help them not take the mean comments into their hearts.
- Some friend groups have cultures of drama and this may not be the best place for your child’s tender heart. If your kid is being excluded have them use their noticing skills to find the nice kids. They are always there and may be just the friend group your child is looking for.
- Ask your kids about helping their friends when they are bullied. Do they stand up to them? Do they check in with them? Make sure you go over these options for how not to be a bystander.