Anxiety: How can I help my child manage her back to school anxiety? 08/17/2012
CATHERINE CAMILLERI, MD LINDEN OAKS MEDICAL GROUP
Starting a new school year is an exciting, but anxious time for kids, and the way a parent manages the first few weeks can make a difference.
"It is perfectly natural for a child to feel some anxiety about going back to school. A new teacher, different routines, and maybe even a new school are factors that cause a child to feel nervous. It is important for parents to be sympathetic and reassuring," says Catherine Camilleri, MD, mood and anxiety disorder expert with Linden Oaks Medical Group.
To help your child, Camilleri suggests trying some of these strategies:
Set a routine for homework and bedtime. Start practicing the routine before school starts.
Be selective in talking about school. It's important to set expectations about a new grade, but be selective in how often you talk about school. Let your child initiate questions and discussion. Show your enthusiasm toward the teaching staff and principal.
Clear your schedule. If possible, avoid business trips and evening commitments during the first week of school so you can be home to help your child. Use this time to talk about school and ask questions.
Tour the school. If your child is switching schools or starting middle or high school, walk around the new building to find classrooms, practice using a locker, and find the bus stop.
Allow extra time. Pack lunches and pick out clothes before bed to avoid being rushed in the morning. Send your child off to school with a good breakfast and avoid distractions such as television and video games.
Get to know the staff. From the principal to school psychologist, school nurse and teachers, there are many resources for you and your child.
Something doesn't seem right. Over time, if your child is still struggling with feelings of anxiety or depression, be sure to seek help. There might be a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.
Besides your school staff, Linden Oaks at Edward provides adolescent services including assessments, therapy and counseling as well as specialized programs for substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide prevention. Help is available 24/7 by calling (630) 305-5500.