going back to school advice

Going back to school

Going back to school

Psychotherapist Mark Newey on how to help your teen make the transition

It’s official: schoolchildren will be heading back to school on 8 March! However, helping teenagers return to school and find their way in the new ‘normal’ is not easy, and a concern for many parents. Leading psychotherapist and founder of mental wellness education platform,, Mark Newey, believes supporting your children with their self-esteem, friendships and giving much-needed unconditional love, are far more important than worrying about grades at this tricky time.

He explains: “It’s essential we help youngsters make as smooth a transition back into the classroom as possible. They’ve missed a lot of schooling and need to get back into a routine and spend time with their mates. However, many young people may be anxious about returning, catching-up with their studies, getting back into their friendship groups, even wearing a mask all day – it’s all difficult. Parents and teachers need to give youngsters time to get back into the swing of things and boost their self-esteem rather than worrying them about exam grades.”

Here’s his top tips:

Connections with others

Youngsters have been severely affected by the pandemic, many not seeing friends for months. Some have turned to Zoom, but it’s really not the same and children are missing out on their close relationships with friends. Going back to school will be ideal for youngsters to get back to a sense of normality and to have time with their friends.

Don’t pressurise youngsters

Once your children are safely through the school gates, the knee-jerk reaction is to start telling them to ‘buckle down and work their hardest, they’ve missed out on a lot!’, but ‘helicopter’ style parenting would be disastrous right now. It’s never easy to make changes, so don’t expect your children to adapt quickly. Help them through the process and once they’re settled, let them have the time to develop.


Many youngsters suffer from low levels of self-esteem. One of the major building blocks in life to be able to cope with adversity is to have self-esteem. Having self-esteem is simply being comfortable in your own skin, that shouldn’t be hard, but due to the pressures of modern life can be tricky. Consider how as a family you can boost your children’s self-esteem and become more resilient to the tricky path ahead.

Future Planning

For older children, the uncertainty over exams has made them concerned abut their future. Provide reassurance – if they see you as being stressed about what the future holds for them, it will only exacerbate the situation.

Unconditional Love

We’ve all needed a hug once in awhile to get through the pandemic, your children will require additional support to help them through these challenging times. Simply offer unconditional love. Unconditional love doesn’t mean spoiling your children or giving them unlimited time on the Xbox or Netflix, but it does mean always being there for them and around to offer advice.

Access the free online course

The ‘Back to School Programme’ is a free online course, which helps students understand and deal with anxiety, teaches youngsters how to rebuild relationships after a year in lockdown and provide a smooth return to school. The course covers nine sessions from understanding what really makes you happy and who you really are, to wellbeing and mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and tips on how to get a goodnight’s sleep.