Navigating Back-to-School Anxiety in Hawaii: An Aloha Approach



Written by Dr. Neel Chauhan, M.D. 

Aloha, Hawaii ohana! Dr. Neel Chauhan here, and I’m thrilled to be diving into a topic close to many islander hearts right now: back-to-school anxiety. Our keiki (children) are our treasures, and as they gear up for another academic year in our paradise, it’s essential to help them transition smoothly.

Understanding Keiki Concerns

Our islands bring about a unique school experience. From the lively hula classes to lessons on our rich history, school in Hawaii is unlike any other place. Yet, as summer fades, the anticipation of school, whether it’s under the banyan trees or in a traditional classroom, can spark anxiety in our young ones.

1. Aloha Conversations: Talk with Open Hearts

Open up a heart-to-heart, Hawaiian style. Share stories of your school days on the islands, listen to their worries, and validate their feelings. They might be concerned about their first hula presentation or making friends. Let them know that it’s natural to feel this way, and you’re there for them.

2. Recognizing the Signs of Anxiety in Hawaiian Style

Sometimes, our keiki might express their worries by saying they feel “heavy” or their “stomach feels like a whirlpool.” Pay attention to such local expressions and physical complaints like stomachaches or tiredness, especially as the first day of school approaches.

3. Leverage the Ohana Spirit

In Hawaii, community is everything. Organize some playdates or gatherings with their classmates at the beach or a local park. The familiar laughter and shared stories can make the first day of school feel like another day with friends.

4. Take a Day-Trip to School

Visit the school together, maybe have a picnic on the school grounds. If you can, introduce them to their kumu (teacher) before school starts. This can make the environment feel more familiar.

5. Empower them with Island Choices

Let them choose their favorite aloha shirt or decide on a local treat for breakfast, like malasadas. Small choices can make a big difference in how they perceive the upcoming change.

Mahalo for investing time in understanding your child’s feelings. Remember, the Aloha spirit is not just about greetings; it’s about understanding, compassion, and love. If the back-to-school blues don’t fade, reach out. At Cloudwell Health, we are committed to looking after our island community, ensuring both physical and mental well-being.