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End of school year can trigger anxiety in young children: counsellor

06/25/2015 04:02 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
It's the last week of school for most children and while many have been looking forward to the summer holidays for weeks — some younger children may be feeling a bit of anxiety about saying goodbye to their school routines, their classrooms, and their teachers.

"Small children, whenever you make any big change in their life, they will experience some stress over that," said Saskia Roland, a registered clinical counsellor who works with kids and adults.

"They don't really remember last summer, that was a long time ago for them. They just remember school being a normal everyday thing," 

Roland says younger children that have trouble making the transition often experience meltdowns, difficulties eating and concentrating as well as a lack of sleep.

"They just hear ... there's going to be a big change happening and they really don't have the same reference as we do as to what that would look like."

Roland says parents should warn their kids about the upcoming change, but to bring it up carefully.

"It's a good idea to give them a heads up that it is happening, but not to really emphasize it too much, especially children who have anxiety or ask a lot of questions."

For teachers, Roland recommends packing up the classroom after kids have left and to avoid long good byes.

"Just take one day, one period of time and do it relatively near the end, not soon before they leave."

Roland says the most important thing that parents and teachers can do simplify their schedules and make sure they get plenty of rest.

"If you think back in time maybe a parent would say "School's over and you are going to hang out at grandpa's place '... but now it's you're going to be in this camp and that camp and this camp and then you're doing this and then this is going to happen."

"I think that kind of structure, that all these things are going to happen, can actually create more anxiety."

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