Starting High School Anxiety - Tips for parents and students


The leap from primary school to high school is a big event for the entire family and it's completely normal to feel nervous, anxious and a bit overwhelmed about the whole experience - that goes for the parents as well. 

There are many elements that can contribute to the build-up of anxiety for new high school students leading up to the first day including:

- Starting at a brand new campus that is unfamiliar

- Having to establish a new social group

- Getting used to timetables and different teachers

- Being amongst older students

- Expectation of being more independent 

Parents can also be just as, if not more so, anxious with the transition from primary to high school with a different routine, community and dynamics of the school to get accustomed to, which again, is completely normal. 

With change being a part of life, it is important prepare before hand and also accept that there are some things that can not be controlled. Some tips for both parents and students going into the transition of high school include: 

- Visit the school prior to the first day and familiarize yourselves with the general layout.  A lot of schools will have orientation days the year prior or as part of the first day, otherwise there's no shame in reaching out to the school and requesting if possible for someone to show you around. 

- Rest up in the days leading up to the first day of school and don't do any big activities that will drain your energy.  Also keep extra activities to a minimum once you have started and allow yourself some time to reset for the first couple of weeks. Nervousness and a bit of anxiety is normal and expected which will get the adrenalin pumping through, so 'store up' on your rest and keep hydrated so you've got some excess resources to rely on. 

- Try some meditation and even some visualising techniques of a positive experience each day when you're at school. Try and switch the brain to a place of calm rather than a place of worry when you think about school. 

- Talk it out. Chat with your family and friends about your feelings and any specific things that concern you.  Sometimes saying the words out loud can help get the emotions off your chest and you may even get some good advice by talking about it. 

- Keep things in perspective.  Remind yourself that feeling nervous about an unfamiliar situation is a normal response. Remind yourself that everybody else is going through the exact same emotions and you are not alone with your thoughts, feelings and worries about starting high school. Remind yourself that all of the older students have gone through exactly the same transition and they have got through it okay!  Remind yourself that the teachers, many of them who are  probably parents themselves, will be empathetic to the nerves of the first few weeks and will be there to help make the transition into high school as easy as possible whilst encouraging independence and resilience - both important life skills moving forward.

For more tips and different coping techniques, check out the great tip sheet by the awesome team at Kid's Help Line and remember, you've got this.  

Good luck, embrace this new chapter of your life and remember, if in doubt, reach out. 

Our LIVINWell Schools Program is delivered to high schools around the country at no cost to the school or the students.  If you think your school may be interested, contact our head office for more info. #ItAintWeakToSpeak