Parenting Tips: Managing Your Child’s Back to School Anxiety

And just like that, summer is officially over and it’s officially fall. And with fall comes the start of school.

It’s not uncommon for your child to feel anxious about going back to school, particularly if they are transitioning from grade school to junior high or junior high to senior high. Some kids entering kindergarten have been known to suffer anxiety too.

Kids who suffer from anxiety may be clingy, have headaches, complain of an upset stomach, or appear withdrawn or irritable. Children and teens have different school-related concerns. Some worry about fitting in, what they will wear, who they will sit with at lunch, and even missing the bus. Many kids dread the days counting down to school as they think about who their teacher will be or if any of their friends will be in their class.

As parents, it breaks our hearts to watch our children suffer these anxious feelings towards what should be the best days of their lives. Ignoring these signs of anxiety may worsen the situation and may lead our kids to want to skip going to school altogether.

Here are a few tips to help your child overcome their anxiety

Role-Play

Often, kids feel anxious about situations because they fear a negative outcome. When you role-play with your child, they start to feel more confident and see how they can handle the situation. For example, if your child is afraid of their first day of school because they have to stand up and introduce themselves in front of the class, then you should role-play a similar situation in your living room. Have your child introduce themselves and show them that it’s not that scary after all.

Focus on the Positive

When children focus too much on the negative, they feel stressed out and have trouble coping. By encouraging your child to think about only positive outcomes or see the silver lining in even bad situations, they start to look forward to all the good things that could happen.

Teach and Practice Coping Skills

Kids who suffer from anxiety typically feel dizzy or lightheaded because the stress and worry have caused them to breathe heavily and rapidly. An effective way to help your child cope is by teaching them how to breathe properly. Children who recognize their tendencies to be overcome with emotion need to be taught that they can manage their emotions by taking deep calming breaths.

A calming breath starts by taking a long, slow breath in through your nose. Teach them to hold that breath and count to three. Through pursed lips, exhale slowly as they relax their muscles.

Breathing techniques like Buteyko are particularly helpful in calming one’s breathing. Because Buteyko method’s objective is to achieve relaxation and calm breathing, it is particularly beneficial for those who suffer panic attacks, stress, and anxiety. It promotes soothing calmness and a steady heart rate.