Middle school comes with a lot of changes for kids. Body changes. Schedule changes. And, one big change that often causes anxiety? Changing clothes in front of others. And while some children have already experienced changing their clothes for activities such as swimming in camp, for many, stripping down in front of others for physical education or sports can be anxiety producing.
What can you do to assuage your child’s locker room angst?
(1) Employ some tricks
Some kids feel more comfortable if they wear a camisole or longer undershirt beneath their school clothes so they never are completely exposed in front of their peers. Others have learned to wear their gym clothes underneath their school clothes. Still others have taught themselves how to shimmy off clothes only when others are in their place. See what will make your child feel the most comfortable and do a dry run.
(2) Seek out a place
If your child isn’t comfortable changing out in the open, help her to seek out a bathroom stall so she can change in private. If a private space isn’t available, have her buddy up with a friend who “blocks” your child as she gets dressed either with her body or with a towel.
(3) Prepare a comeback
If someone says something about her body while she is changing, prepare her to speak up. What would she feel comfortable saying? Would she prefer to be direct or, rather, funny and flip to diffuse the situation? And if she feels like she’s under attack, who can she seek out in school for help? No one should feel scrutinized while changing in school.
Remind your child that everyone is usually so focused on changing themselves, that they aren’t looking around at others. They likely feel uncomfortable too! And, while you want your children to feel comfortable in his or her own skin, make sure to empathize with your child and see how you can work around the problem. They’ll be grateful for the help.
I’m Dr. Robyn Silverman for KnowMore.tv. Live smart. Be healthy. Know more.