Reply To: Pupil with anxiety too worried about coming back to school

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    I agree with Angela’s advice which is very helpful. Take baby steps. Be as flexible as possible and prioritise building relationships. Whilst the child isn’t in school keep any positive relationships with adults that exist going. Be creative. This could be sending letters, cards or emails to the child (via the parent), phone calls, home visits etc. Whatever works best for the child. These don’t have to be about school. Anything that just keeps it positive and makes the child feel that they are still part of things and cared about. Sharing jokes, showing an interest in anything the child is doing at home, sending fun non-compulsory activities home for the child to do with a parent that they can send pictures in of etc. Include the child and parent in planning and ask what they feel the child could manage: Who she wants to be with. What she could manage to do. The most minor thing can seem huge to an anxious child so plans and agreements need to be exactly as described or prior notice given of changes. Be aware that it is extremely stressful for parents too and be supportive of them. Reducing the parent’s anxiety will help the child and vice versa. Parents need you to be understanding and hopeful. Take their concerns seriously and ask for regular feedback about how things are going so you can pick it up early if something isn’t working. Show optimism that what you are trying will work even though there most likely will be blips. Take a one-step-at-a-time approach as this reduces everyone’s sense of overwhelm and gives opportunities to celebrate even the most minor bit of progress. A lot there but the basic principles are; build relationships, small steps, regular success (doesn’t have to be academic, can just be setting foot in the school for 5 minutes) and make it fun! I’m an EP so come across this quite a lot and this is what I have learned helps in many cases.