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Talking to your kid about back-to-school anxiety

Talking to your kid about back-to-school anxiety

September 13 | By Rachael

Children, whether in elementary, middle or high school, feel jittery when it is time to go back to school after a long break. The beginning of school can be tough for them as well as for parents. Children have to make the transition from a new place or a new grade and are fearful of what is in store. They worry excessively about their ability to fit in, whether they would be able to make new friends or their new teachers would be as cooperative as the ones before. Those who built a comfort zone in their old classroom may find the very thought of accepting a new environment discomforting.

While a preadolescent or a teen might face initial hiccups and display different forms of truant behavior, with time some of them manage to adjust to the new setting. While senior kids are more likely to be defiant and feign disinterest, younger children could throw a tantrum and refuse to be away from their parents.

Courtney Keeton, a child psychologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, says that while it is natural for a child to be anxious when summer ends and school beckons, continued disinterest, reluctance and fear for more than a few weeks warrants clinical intervention. Some of the “red flags” include: physical symptoms such as fatigue and stomachaches, avoidance of normal day-to-day activities, and difficulty getting along with siblings or with other family members.

Easing anxiety

After a fun-filled summer caper, school signals the beginning of the daily rigmarole of homework, paying attention in class and improving performance. However, parents can help their child overcome the anxiety when entering a new grade or class by ensuring the following:

  • During summer break, kids develop the habit of lazing around till late. There is a complete disruption in their day-to-day routine. A few days before school opens, it is essential that parents regularize their child’s sleeping patterns. They can also include kids while planning for a new session. As Lynn Bufka, a practicing psychologist who also works at the American Psychological Association (APA), believes that getting kids engaged gives them a mastery of the situation. Another psychologist, Eleanor Mackey, form Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., stresses upon the significance of sleep, “Anxiety is much worse if sleep is bad.” Mackey further suggests the role of parents in interacting with children and giving them the power of working out solution on their own.
  • Getting acclimatized to new surroundings a few days ahead can help to a great extent. However, Mackey suggests that this practice of doing a dry run be done more than once, as a single day’s practice can exacerbate anxiety instead of quelling it.
  • For children in middle and high school, clothes can make or mar their day. Therefore, it is essential that children’s choices are considered while shopping for them.
  • Conversing with the child after school and ensuring that they have some family time together is very important. Allowing them to scroll through their favorite channels, listening to how a day was spent at school, and what they feel can reduce their anxiety. Parents should try to be friends with kids, build trust and make home a haven for the anxious child. As Bufka says, “Emotionally, parents are the safe place for children to experience emotions and to help them develop the language around expressing emotions.”

Road to recovery

Children’s behavior signals a lot about their mental health. If they are having a hard time adjusting to the changes around them and their grades seem to be falling, it’s time to contact a mental health professional. Timely diagnosis will help the young individuals get over their worries, gain confidence and be the winner.

If you know someone who is suffering from anxiety, contact the Anxiety Treatment Help representatives to connect to the state-of-the-art anxiety treatment centers for holistic recovery. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-487-5015 or chat with a medical adviser to find out the best anxiety disorders treatment centers in Texas.

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