Going back to school after summer break is a difficult transition for most kids. They are nervous about the first day, especially having to jump back into a routine after a long, lazy summer. This year, kids and teens may face additional difficulties due to prolonged absences from school and long stretches without socialization.
Having the jitters on the first day of school is normal. However, parents should know the difference between jitters and anxiety.
According to John Hopkins Children's Center, the difference should be obvious. For starters, most kids get over the jitters after the first day or two of school, but when a child is suffering from anxiety, this can last for weeks.
Some of the symptoms to look for that point to an anxiety disorder include:
- Not wanting to separate from parents to go to school
- Displaying tantrums or meltdowns when having to go to school
- Not wanting to sleep alone
- Not wanting to attend events without a parent
- Withdrawal from peers
- Constant worrying
- Fatigue and/or stomachaches
When a child has anxiety, it is difficult for them to participate in normal day-to-day activities, make friends, and perform well in school.
How to Calm Back to School Anxiety
If you have a child with social or behavioral issues, consider seeking professional help to learn proven strategies for easing your child's anxiety. Other steps you can take include:
- Acknowledge his/her fears and worries and help your child work through them by talking about them, as well as all the positive things to look forward to with the upcoming school year.
- Start school routines early. For example, set a bedtime a couple of weeks before school starts.
- Use extrinsic motivation. For example, offer your child a special prize or treat for going to school without a disturbance, like throwing a tantrum.
- Talk to your child's teacher. If there is anyone at school looking out for your kid, it's their teacher. Set up an appointment with their new teacher before school starts to discuss your child's anxiety issues. The teacher will be appreciative and can help you with easing your child's anxiety. Include your child in this conversation as this will help open up dialogue and give the child and teacher a chance to bond.
The first day of school is a scary change for all kids, but when children already struggle with social and behavioral issues, it can be even scarier. Use the tips above to help your child be a success this school year.
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