Does Switching Schools Lead To Kids Having A Higher Risk Of Psychosis?

School life is one of the most memorable times in one’s life. When we look back and think about our school days, so many fond memories flash before our eyes. Memories of our friends, school teachers, the mischief, the silly fights, the crushes, the style of cheating during exams, the times we got punished and so many other things.

One of the reasons people have so many fond memories is because they spend all or most of their childhood at one place surrounded by the same people. With time, their bonding improves and they get pretty attached to their school, their friends as well as their neighborhood.

When this bond breaks, there is a pretty adverse effect in the child’s physical, mental as well as emotional health. Due to some uncontrollable reasons, many children are forced to switch schools. Some children who switch schools in their same neighborhood don’t have much problems adjusting to the environment. But for others who not only switch schools but also switch their neighborhoods, face a lot of adjustment issues.

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What are some reasons children switch schools?

1) Quality of Education:

One of the leading reasons why parents prefer changing their kids schools is the quality of education. Parents always want the best for their child. If the school in question isn’t providing best quality of education, parents are forced to change schools for the benefit of their children.

2) Problems at School:

Sometimes, there may be some issues that the child faces at his/her school like bullying, name calling, too much pressure, unnecessary restrictions, punishments, etc. Sometimes, the school may have been in the news for wrong reasons like child abuse, robbery, attack, weak infrastructure, accidents, etc. For the sake of the safety of their children, parents prefer to shift schools.

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3) Work Transfer:

Another well-known and common reason is when parents are transferred from one place to another as a part of their work. At such times, parents prefer to move cities along with their immediate families.

4) Financial Issues:

High fees can force parents to switch schools. Now a days schooling is become like a corporate company aiming at making high profits. People with financial problems are majorly hit due to this and end up switching to schools with lower or affordable fees.

5) Issue with the child:

If a child is suspended, expelled or fails in majority of the exams, the parents are asked to change school of the child.

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So let’s discover how does switching school affect a child?

1) Emotional destabilization

Frequently switching schools can result in a great emotional imbalance in the child. When a child is separated from his friends and his neighborhood it can disturb him deeply. The child may even end up losing his self-esteem and confidence. Some cases, the child may be in a state close to depression.

The early years in a child’s life play an important role in shaping who the child becomes. Shifting schools frequently may disrupt the emotional balance in a child’s life. They can also show symptoms like a sense of social defeat, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders. These feelings could result in physiological consequences, which raise the risks of psychotic-like symptoms.

2) Problems adjusting

We all know how difficult it is to adjust into new situations and new places. There is a myth that children can easily adjust to new situations. But the fact is they find it equally difficult. The students had to deal with not just a change in their home environment, but also their social network of friends at school as well.

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Adjusting in a new school can be difficult for children. Sometimes, kids have a harder time getting used to the new aspects of their lives. Discipline issues cause distractions. Distractions add up and limit learning time.

3) Academic Challenges

Switching schools before Grade 3 affects academics, study finds. Different schools have different pattern of teaching their students. There is a shift in the instructional pattern causing difficulty for children to cope up with. The grades and scores of the students can be highly affected due to frequent shifting of schools as they won’t be able to cope up with the teaching styles and the lesson.

4) Psychosis-Like Symptoms

For those of you who are unaware, psychosis is a serious mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality. Kids who regularly change schools are more likely to hear voices, have delusions, thought interference and experience other symptoms linked with psychosis in adolescence, new research suggests.

This research stated that students who had changed schools three or more times during their childhood were found to be 60 percent more likely to display at least one of the symptoms.

Here are some symptoms of psychosis:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Anxiety
  • Suspiciousness
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech, such as switching topics unpredictably
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Dr. Swaran Singh, a psychiatrist and head of the mental health division at Warwick Medical School in the U.K., suspects that “repeatedly being an outsider by having to re-integrate into new schools may lead to feelings of exclusion and low self-esteem. That may change a developing child’s sense of self and prime him to always feel like an outlier and never an integrated part of a social network; such repeated experiences of exclusion are known to contribute to paranoia and psychotic symptoms. These symptoms can manifest into true psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.”

How to tackle this situation?

  • Involve your child in the decision making process when it comes to migrating to a new place or switching schools
  • Don’t force your opinions on the child.
  • If possible, discuss the move with your child well in advance.
  • If your child is worried about something, take time to discuss it.
  • Keep the child informed and don’t just drop the news all of a sudden.
  • Help the child to deal with changing schools by sharing your own stories or talking to him/her.
  • Stay alert and keep a watch on your child’s behavior.
  • If you find change in the child’s behavior, don’t ignore it. Address it and if needed take the help of an expert.
  • Be enthusiastic about the move yourself.
  • Ask your child to make lists of the things she’s looking forward to about going to a new school or what he’d like to have in his new school.
  • Keep a check on the school and your child’s classmates to see if your child is adjusting well or having troubles.
  • Talk to the principal or the teachers of your old as well as the new school.

Concluding Thoughts,

Shifting schools can be made a joyous task for children if done in the right manner. It can be a positive learning experience. Although it comes with some challenges, don’t let it affect the mental or the emotional health of your child.

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