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Downtown -Anji Plaza,

Room 05, 760 South Xizang Road

(+86 21) 6345 5101 * 223/ 225


Minhang -Zhidi Plaza,

211 Cheng Jia Qiao Zhi Road

(+86 21) 6461 6550 * 0/ 219


Back To School: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Back To School: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Getting back to school may feel like a relief after long summer holidays. Many parents and kids are happy to return to a comfortable routine. But, like all change, going back to school can come with challenges. Your child might be starting school in a new country or returning from significant time in your home country. This could be the year you’ve chosen a new school. Or, the transition to upper grades, a new teacher or new classmates might be a source of anxiety. How can you help your child make a smooth adjustment?

1. Prepare your kids by talking about the transition. Sometimes parents talk among themselves but neglect to talk to the child about what will be happening. Here are a couple tips:

First, remember that kids listen closely to what you say. Discuss transitions in a positive way. You may tell your child “You’re going to have so much fun in Shanghai meeting new kids.” But, then they hear you complaining about the move, or telling your friends you aren’t looking forward to returning to Shanghai.

Talk about emotions they may feel; explain it is okay to be nervous. This gives them the confidence to talk about what they’re feeling. It helps them identify feelings (which otherwise may turn into behavior problems). Talk about how to deal with anger, for example. It is natural to feel upset sometimes, but it’s not okay to act it out on others. All emotions are good and legitimate, don’t label any emotions as negative. There is nothing wrong with the way one feels. Talk about emotions and healthy ways to express them.

2. Give your kids time to adapt. Have realistic expectations. Don’t forget that these are significant transformations and your child may need some time to get used to a new country, school, teacher, and/or classmates. If you’ve returned from a long home visit, they may be sad about leaving friends, loved ones and familiar things back home.

3. Observe your child’s behavior. Keep an eye out for aggressive behavior, changes in mood, altered study habits, and other changes like suddenly hating a favorite school subject or activity.

If you notice any of these signs or it is taking a long time for your child to adapt:
• Talk to your child in an environment where they have time and space to express themselves. For example, don’t bring this up in the car when you’re rushing to get to school with all the kids. Do it when you have time to listen and pay attention.
• Normalize and help them with coping by relating your experiences. Explain, for example, how anxious and scared you felt starting a new job in a different country. Tell them a story of missing friends, so they know these feelings are normal even for Mom and Dad. Understanding that you felt these things and coped with them makes it seem more manageable.
• If your child says he hates his teacher/school/classmates, listen and ask questions about what he’s feeling and experiencing. Normalize the feelings, and point out some of the positive aspects (cool projects, fun activities he’s enjoyed, a new friend). By listening carefully, you may also pick up on issues that need to be addressed such as bullying.
• Keep an open dialogue with the school. Talk to the teacher; reach out to the school psychologist.
• Psychotherapy can provide a safe space for your child to discover why they’re feeling and behaving the way they are.

Claudia Sáenz is a Child & Teen Psychologist, experienced in psychological testing and psychotherapy. She’s worked in schools and clinics, helping kids with emotional issues, behavior and school problems. If you need support to accompany your child through transitions, click here for further information and to schedule a consultation with her.

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Medical Clinics

Body & Soul is your solution for wellness in Shanghai, with over 13 years successfully treating patients with a holistic blend of TCM and Western therapies. We also offer Shanghai’s largest team of multi-disciplinary pain management and rehabilitation experts.