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How parents help their children cope with school trip anxiety

Dec 17, 2019


Going on a school trip for the first time can be nerve-wracking for both children and their parents. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, nearly 300,000 young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder. It therefore comes as no surprise that school trip worries are a common occurrence.

As a parent, you know what works best for your child when supporting them through their challenges. Anxiety doesn’t need to be feared and there are many young people feeling the same apprehension.

We spoke to a group of parents who have all experienced school trip anxiety in their children and we’ve rounded up their best ideas for helping them cope.


1. Home Comforts

“I tell my teenage son to take something to remind him of home like a photograph. For my younger daughter, I’d pack a comfort blanket or cuddly toy.”

Dawn, Mum of 2, Hertfordshire

 

2. Distractions

Make sure your child takes plenty of activities to keep their mind busy, such as their favourite books, games, magazines or even snacks. This will help them to associate their trip with things they enjoy.

 

3. Use Technology

“We look at videos and photographs together of where they will be going to familiarise themselves with what they will see on their trip. I also call or text if they are allowed to use a mobile phone.”

Paul, Dad of 4, Sheffield

“Attempts to get children to master their anxiety by telling them ‘not to be so silly’ will fail.”

The Mental Health Foundation

4. Role Play

Why not role play some scenarios your child might face on their travels? Some suggestions we heard included taking them to a museum to look at a mock aeroplane, and practising airport security at home!

 

5. Breathing Techniques

Breathing and relaxation techniques are proven to alleviate stress and anxiety. The Government recently launched mindfulness trials in 370 UK schools to discover the positive effects it can have on student mental health.

 

6. Just Talk

“I try to understand what my kids are afraid of by asking them to share their worries with me and encouraging them to ask as many questions as they need to. I’m only a call away if they need to talk.”

Tracy, Mum of 2, Derby

“As well as talking to your child about their worries and anxieties, it’s important to help them find solutions. The tendency is to say, if you’re worried about that sleepover, don’t go. But what you’re doing is saying, if you get anxious about something, it means you can’t do it.”

NHS

7. Involve School Staff

Make your children’s apprehension known to the teachers going on the trip. It was also suggested that the child selects a specific teacher to talk to in confidence when they are feeling anxious.

 

8. Make It Fun!

“Focus on the positives. I’ve travelled a lot and often talk to my kids about my experiences in similar places to get them excited about it. We discuss the sights they might see and the things they will learn.”

Martin, Dad of 2, Derby

 

Remember, support is always available from teachers and head teachers in school, as well as your GP and health professionals.

 

Got ideas of your own? Share them with us on Twitter!

 

Sources:

Royal College of Psychiatrists, ‘Worries and anxieties – helping children to cope: for parents and carers’, March 2017

Gov.uk, ‘One of the largest mental health trials launches in schools’, February 2019

The Mental Health Foundation, ‘The Anxious Child’, Published 1997

NHS, ‘Anxiety in Children’, December 2016