Last week I received an email from my child's school reminding me to log on to their system to ensure that when the time came, I could access my son's report as it will be released on the last day of term.
The upcoming last week of term 2 is the final flag on a big eleven weeks for our kids. This was a behemoth of a term compared to easier introduction of a nine-week first term. Eyes are now boggled, steps are dragged and nerves are frayed. Our kids (and us!) are exhausted. Maybe you've noticed they take to more emotional responses faster than usual, or may get stuck in their ways a little harder. All these behaviours and more have plagued our household these last couple of weeks. My son loves school, yet has asked for more days off 'just because', than ever before.
This takes me back to the aforementioned email. As a rule of thumb, I don't look to the results, I look to the effort and social comments. Is Mr 9 working hard and good to his peers and teachers? If so, that is for the most part all that matters. As for grades, we have time to work on these. After all, managing ADHD, ODD, anxiety and behaviours that place him on the ASD spectrum takes up all the room I have for expectations.
If only it was that easy... But it's not, is it?
So what happens when we see anxiety peak in our young ones in report season? It can be a stress for them that can be internalised or externalised. When it is externalised it can be more recognisable and easier for us to help guide them through there experience. But as anyone with anxiety knows, when it is internalised, it can be externalised in what seems to others as an unrelated way.
So how do we help them manage their anxiety around their report?
Highlight your child's strengths - engaging with your child and celebrating their successes at school/ home/ sports builds their confidence
Create a safe space - If your child is externalising their anxiety in other avenues, create a safe space for them to vent. It is healthy for them to experience the emotion. When the heat of the emotion is receding then approach them and follow their lead in the conversation to open it up to what is really bothering them
Don't make a deal about the report before and after it is released - read it when they are not around. Celebrate or reward their improvements. Then be proactive in laying the ground work for assistance in areas they need, if required.
Champion their individuality - it can be hard for many to feel they are compared to siblings. Remind them of role models who have similar academic experiences.
I can hear you... That is all very good for primary school students, what about high school students?
By this stage, particularly later in high school, there is a lot more riding on reports for our kids. They have ambitions that are now within reach and all their efforts in recent years are leading up to these reports. Children in their teen years are more articulate than their junior counterparts, however they are still also children. They have the added complexities of hormonal changes and social pressures. While they live in an era where there is more than one path available to their desired goal, the pressure can still be strong.
If your child is experiencing anxiety for the first time, or in a more heightened state than usual, take them to visit a GP or the pastoral care department at their school. There are many programs and interventions in the school system that can aid in helping your child manage their anxiety regarding education. The most important thing is to let them know they are not alone. Meet them at their level. Give them their space in a supportive way that shows you are still here for them and that your door is always open.
Empathy is the greatest tool of support for anyone, particularly those with anxiety. We may not understand our child's experience in this situation, but through non-judgemental empathy we can support them through their anxiety each step of the way. One of the simplest ways to express this is "I can see how this has upset/ angered you. I want to understand more."
I wish you and your families fun as you celebrate the wins big or small this report season. For more tips on helping your child manage their wellbeing during this time, please feel free to contact me.
Claire @ The Health & Wellbeing Haven