• Monique West, LCSW

3 Tips For Back To School Anxiety

Updated: Mar 7


Now that the summer is over and back to school is well underway. As Families get back on a routine schedule the adjustment of going back to school for children can be overwhelming. Ending summer and preparing for a new school, new classroom, new teacher and new classmates is distressing for children in general but with children who experience chronic anxiety, returning to school can feel unbearable and intolerable. As parents there are things that you can begin to practice and implement with your child who suffers from anxiety to help them empower themselves and reduce their own anxiety.

Begin To See Anxiety As Temporary

It is helpful for parents to begin to see anxiety as a temporary transitional trait rather than a permanent character flaw. When you begin to see anxiety as temporary you can then begin to understand that your child may need tools and techniques in which to reduce their anxiety. Anxiety is a real part of life but the overwhelming effects of anxiety does not have to continue to be real. As a parent you may begin to normalize the anxiety your child feels by talking to them about acknowledging their anxiety and accepting that is a real experience, however, understanding that there are ways to overcome their anxiety. Often times parents deny their child anxiety or try to talk them out of their anxiety. If you find yourself saying to your kid “There’s no need to be nervous you are OK!” or “You don’t need to worry about that! That will never happen” then you are indirectly sending the message that their anxiety is unwarranted. Try instead ” Honey I understand that you feel nervous about this, can you help me understand more about your anxiety?” or “When I was your age I too felt that way, it does seem like a big and scary issue!” Normalizing your child’s anxiety is the first step in having them know their feelings are real.

Build Problem Solving Skills

Parents often want to try to solve their child’s problems by over functioning for them. In parenting coaching with parents I encourage parents to begin to start working with their children in helping them build internal strength through problem solving. Our children are not with us 24 hours per day if our children can think for themselves and have confidence in knowing they can come up with their own solutions then they will begin to learn how to regulate their own anxieties. Try practicing with your child ways in which to solve their problems instead of giving them the answers. Instead of telling your child what to do ask them

  • So Timmy keeps picking on you in class and I get it that’s why you are nervous and anxious to go to school today, is there anything you can do to stop Timmy from bothering you?

  • So you are nervous because your Math teacher keeps giving you pop quizzes and that makes you nervous. Is there anything we can come up with to help you not to feel so nervous?

Rehearsals are essential for building problem solving skills with children. If you ask your child to role play and rehearse with you their conversations with their teacher, classmate or bully then the likelihood of your child in feeling more confident can be greatly increased. Problem solution approaches needs to rehearsed and hard-wired in order to be effective.

Gain Support

If you are finding that your child is having a difficult time adjusting to the school year and learning problem solving skills to help your child through lingering and overwhelming anxiety then I would suggest talking to your child’s school social worker in coming up with new ways to help your child along. Sometimes in school 504 plans are available where special accommodations are made to help your child step away from the class and gain support from the school’s resource room, have a “time out” in the “chill” corner of the classroom, have your child get involved in the school’s counseling program, etc. Gaining support through outside play therapy or talk therapy from a licensed therapist could also be helpful also.

Anxiety is an evolving symptom for anyone. A child who learns solid skill set, however, to overcome their anxiety can help them through a lifetime of distressing symptoms.

Resources:

You can find a licensed therapist who has experience in working with children around the issues of anxiety: http://www.psychologytoday.com

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)

Sep 15, 2005 by Dawn Huebner and Bonnie Matthews

12 Annoying Monsters: Self-talk for kids with anxiety

Jul 17, 2014 by Dawn Meredith

What to Do When You’re Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

Jan 15, 2004 by James J. Crist

Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress

Mar 1, 2016 by and Mr. Musumeci’s 5th Grade Class

Photo Credit: Girls standing apart from others in school — Image by © Heide Benser/Corbis

#anxiety #kids

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