Entering the new school year can be exciting for some children, but for others it may not be so exciting. Worries about returning to school after the summer holidays can be a source of anxiety and stress for your child. In fact, this transition back to school can be stressful for the whole family.
“Back-to-school anxiety is actually more common than you might think. Anxiety is the fear of the unknown, and when you think about it, a new school year holds many unknowns for children and teens alike. school age,” said Shykita E. Hill, clinical social worker at Iredell Psychiatry.
There are several reasons why your child may be anxious about going back to school. According to Hill, possible reasons for these anxious feelings can include fear of going to a new school, being in a new classroom, having a new teacher, making new friends, or being victimized. bullying. Anxiety can also stem from a lack of friends or a lack of confidence in making new friends.
How do I know if my child is anxious at school?
Signs of anxiety can differ from child to child. No two children have exactly the same signs or symptoms.
However, according to Hill, some red flags that your child is anxious at school may include:
- Temper tantrums
- Not being easily comforted
- Refuse to go to school and cry
- Stomach ache
- racing heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
Be careful not to neglect your child’s stomach ailments. If your child complains of stomach pain days or weeks before their first day of school, it may be anxiety.
And, while a little anxiety about going back to school is normal, you should always respond to their feelings and support them.
“Early detection can help make a difference in your child’s overall well-being and help develop a plan to deal with anxiety,” Hill said.
How can I help?
If your child is worried about the upcoming school year, Hill offers some tips below to help your child cope with anxious feelings.
Children watch and learn from their parents’ actions, so it’s important to lead by example and stay calm when your child is feeling anxious.
“Children pick up on the emotions of adults. If you panic and are anxious, your child will feed on it,” Hill said.
Prepare your child for a successful year.
“Prepare your child for a successful school year by being prepared and not having to rush the next day,” Hill said.
This could mean packing their lunch, picking out outfits, and organizing their backpack the night before.
“You also need to make sure your child gets good rest at night and eats a healthy breakfast, which can be taken at home or at school,” she said.
Be sure to communicate with your child and try to understand why he is feeling worried or anxious.
“You can start by listening to what they are feeling and exploring the cause of those feelings. Are there internal or external factors at play? After determining these things, you can then help them come up with a plan to do so. dealing with anxiety,” Hill said.
You need to let your child know that you care about what they are going through and feeling. Remember that your support is important and can help them feel more comfortable.
“Talk about how they may be feeling and help them by role-playing or coming up with different solutions to whatever scenarios they may have in mind,” Hill said.
Acknowledging and validating your child’s feelings is an integral part of helping to cope.
Visit the school.
If possible, visit the school with your child in advance or attend the open day. This way your child will know what to expect and can see exactly where they will be going when school starts. Also, don’t forget to introduce your child to their new teacher.
“It’s also a good idea to do a ‘trial’ of what the first day of school will look like,” Hill said.
Try mindfulness exercises.
“Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and finding peace within yourself,” Hill said.
You can teach your child to practice mindfulness through breathing exercises, such as focusing their attention on deep breathing.
If your child is still feeling anxious after several weeks of school, they may need a little extra help.
“If you notice that your child’s anxiety is not easily controlled, that she is in a place where she is in control of her life, and that her symptoms persist or worsen, it is time to seek professional help. “Hill said.
You can seek help from a mental health professional or talk to your child’s primary care provider about the best option.
With the right kind of treatment, therapy, and your support, your child will learn to manage their anxiety.
Shykita E. Hill, MSW, LCSW-A, is a new clinical social worker practicing at Iredell Psychiatry. To schedule an appointment with Hill or learn more about Iredell Psychiatry, please call the office at 704-380-3620.