HMC Offers Advice for Parents Whose Children Are Struggling to Adjust to the Back-To-School Routine
Last week thousands of students of government and private schools started their new academic year, returning to classes after the long summer break. Dr. Khalid Abdulla Al Yafei, Senior Consultant, Pediatrics at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says anxious feelings are normal and expected during times of transition or change but he added that returning to school can be more challenging for some children.
“Returning to school after summer holidays can be a challenging time as children move from holiday mode to the daily routine of going to bed early and waking early. This transition can be especially stressful for first-timers starting school and for children who are prone to anxiety. Children may cry, have temper tantrums, complain of headaches or stomach pains, become withdrawn or irritable,” says Dr. Al Yafei.
Dr. Al Yafei says that while most children are capable of accepting change, some will have a difficult time adjusting to the transition from summer holidays to being back in school. He says anxious children and teens may worry about many different school-related issues, such as teachers, friends, fitting in, and being away from their parents.
“Although it is normal for some children to have worries, it is crucial to help them adjust to a routine. Avoidance of school and a bedtime routine will only increase and reinforce a child’s fears. It’s important for parents to help their children readjust to a school-time sleep-schedule, with scheduled time for meals, studying, and sleep,” says Dr. Al Yafei.
Dr. Al Yafei says parents can provide important emotional support for their children as they ease back into the school year. He recommends parents talk to their children about the positive experiences associated with returning to school and help them get excited about learning new things and making new friends.
“School can provide a valuable opportunity for children to develop and practice social skills and even to practice overcoming anxiety. However, if your child’s anxiety persists, reach out for help. Your primary healthcare doctor may be able to offer advice or recommend a support service or therapist, and the school nurse may also be able to offer assistance,” says Dr. Al Yafei.
Dr. Al Yafei stressed the importance of parents creating and maintaining an environment that supports their child’s physical needs, including a calm and quiet environment during bedtime and sufficient sleep. He says children need between eight to ten hours of sleep each night and he cautions parents to limit the time their child spends with electronic gadgets such as video games, smartphones, tablets, and laptops, especially prior to bedtime.
He says it is also important for children to eat a healthy and balanced diet and to get daily exercise, both of which will help stimulate concentration and allow children to feel their best while at school.
He suggested meals that are rich in nutrients and minerals, especially during breakfast. He added that consumption of caffeinated drinks and fatty foods, which are known to cause obesity and irregular heart rates, should be avoided.
“While many schools have a canteen or offer a hot lunch service, a packed lunch from home is a great way for children to learn about healthy foods. Sandwiches or pita bread with zaatar, cheese, lean meat, hummus, salad, and fruit are great options for packed lunches,” Dr. Al Yafei.
Hamad Medical Corporation
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is the main provider of secondary and tertiary healthcare in Qatar and one of the leading hospital providers in the Middle East.
For more than four decades, HMC has been dedicated to delivering the safest, most effective and compassionate care to all its patients.