AS the school year winds down, anxiety among children can often ratchet up into overdrive.
Running on empty, students are dealing with myriad challenges and changes as they transition to new teachers, often different peer groups and even new levels of education like secondary school.
The imminent festive season can put more pressure on families and children alike.
Albury youth mentor and life coach Angela Lindegreen says as the school term ends it’s important for children and their families to take stock of the year.
She says it’s well worth considering the highs and lows of the year overall and to put some goals and targets into place for future.
“A closing ceremony on the school year can be a good idea,” she says.
“You can take it right through into the New Year, talking with your kids about what there is to look forward to in the next year ahead.”
Albury life coach Michelle Dean, who has a background as a registered nurse, says it’s helpful to create an attitude of gratitude within the family.
“Families need to stick together and communicate,” she says.
“With all of the rushing around over the Christmas festive season, it can be easy to not actually spend that much time with each other.
“We need to honour each person in the family and it’s good to do it around Christmas time; when you give someone a written note, it’s something positive to value and hold on to.”
Trinity Anglican College counsellor Dr Anthony Perrone says there can be quite a lot of apprehension for some school students as they start their long summer break this month.
“A lot of students actually like coming to school because they like the routine and they like hanging out with their friends,” he says.
“A lot of students are feeling like they won’t be seeing their friends for a long time; there is a lot of apprehension around leaving.
“Some of them are navigating relationships and they’re worried about how they carry on those relationships outside of school; they might be too embarrassed to ask their parents for help to see a particular person.”
Dr Perrone says there are a range of coping strategies that students may benefit from heading into the school holiday break.
He says students need to communicate with their families.
“Be open with your families about what you want to do and who you want to stay in touch with over the holidays; families need to know to be able to help you,” Dr Perrone says.
“While social media is no substitute for real connections, it can be a useful tool to stay in touch to set up sleepovers and catch-ups.”
The amount of information kids get today within a week is the same as the amount of information we’d get in a year when we were kids. Specifically for teenagers, schoolyard issues follow them home with their devices; home used to be a safe space from it.Michelle Dean
Having opened Dandelion House in Albury during September to provide emotional wellbeing support for children and women on the Border, colleagues Ms Lindegreen and Ms Dean say resilience is the biggest challenge for young people.
Founder of Kallima, which provides emotional wellbeing and life coaching for young children through to secondary school students, Ms Dean says one in three children today is beset by anxiety.
“Information overload has a lot to do with it,” Ms Dean says.
“The amount of information kids get today within a week is the same as the amount of information we’d get in a year when we were kids.
“Specifically for teenagers, schoolyard issues follow them home with their devices; home used to be a safe space from it.”
Founder of Bloom Within, formerly known as Permission to Bloom (2013-September 2018), which provides emotional wellbeing and life coaching for eight-year-old girls through to women, Ms Lindegreen says resilience can be a problem for children from an increasingly younger age.
“It wasn’t until high school that I first had challenges,” she says.
“Now children as young as four, five and six are struggling.
“We live in a culture where everyone gets a ribbon.
“We don’t let our kids fail enough.
“We need to stop trying to snowplough a path in front of them to help them succeed.”
Ms Dean says most of our core belief systems are developed at a young age and this is what our sub-conscious mind draws on when making decisions every day.
She says 90 per cent of our actions are determined by our subconscious mind.
“So, you want to make sure that those core beliefs are working for you in a positive way,” she says.
“Learning how to create the belief systems you want will help you to be happy, successful and content.
“We live in a world today where one in every 10 people are clinically depressed by the time they reach adulthood.
“By hosting an environment where children can learn to understand themselves they will have better knowledge and skills to use in their everyday lives.”
Since September about 300 people have completed the Roaring Resilience workshops offered by Ms Lindegreen and Ms Dean.
Next year anxiety workshops will be added to the program as well as workshops specifically for teenage boys and mothers and their babies.
“There’s huge demand for anxiety workshops so parents have put their kids in Roaring Resilience with underlying anxiety issues,” Ms Dean says.
“The busy-ness of society and technology are mostly to blame.
“Children’s brains are being way too overloaded.”
Dr Perrone says the upside of the long, summer break for school students is the opportunity for some much-needed downtime.
“It’s a long time between the end of term and the end of January,” he says.
“Kids will get bored; sometimes it’s hard for them to get places and access things.
“But it’s the old-age adage: when kids get bored they are more than happy to come back to school.”