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Back to School Stress and Anxiety: Signs and Management

What Parents Should Know About Back-to-School Stress and Anxiety

Going back to school can be a stressful time, not only for the children but for the family as well. There is no doubt that the last year and a half has been challenging for many of us, but as school goes back to in-person sessions, children will have to adapt yet again.

Starting a new school year means new classrooms, classmates and teachers. But this year, additional changes that students are seeing include the use of face masks, limitations on spending time with their old friends on the playground due to social distancing, and the possibility that the school year may have to go virtual again if cases and deaths continue to rise. According to the Behavioral Health Director at Families Together, Yvette Visconte, children can exhibit physical signs of stress and anxiety in the following ways:

  • Stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping and nausea
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Struggling to pay attention in class
  • Attachment to parents before school drop-off, including crying and tantrums
  • Irritability and anger

My child has back-to school-anxiety what should I do?

When children are showing signs of anxiety and stress, Visconte advises parents to consider taking action by talking to their child. Being aware of these signs and addressing them as soon as possible is also important, Visconte says, and doing so can prevent long term or severe symptoms. Different ways that parents can bring up the topic include: 

  • Creating your child’s favorite meal and bring up the conversation during dinner time
  • Give words of encouragement when being dropped off at school or doing homework
  • Ask question on how their day is going or if they are struggling with the new routine

Having these sorts of conversations with their child will help parents better understand their child’s struggles.  It can also help with establishing a better routine if needed. Parents can also talk to their child’s teacher or seek out a counselor for additional support.

Varying age groups will need different forms of support. For younger children, showing affection and spending time together is really important. On the other hand, older children and teens might respond to parents leaning into group activities such as watching a movie or playing a video game together. However, giving them space when needed and being available whenever they reach out for help might work as well . 

Children generally adapt easily to change, but as several studies show, structure and routine are an important aspect of development. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, children have been deprived of a regular routine and signs of stress and anxiety may be more likely to be exhibited as they adjust to the new school year. As long as parents keep an eye out for the major signs, and talk to their children about what they’re noticing, children will have a better chance of settling into life in the classroom. 

Families Together offers various mental health resources for parents and children such as support groups and counseling. For more information, visit our behavioral health page: https://familiestogetheroc.org/behavioral-health

What Parents Should Know About Back-to-School Stress and Anxiety

Going back to school can be a stressful time, not only for the children but for the family as well. Starting a new school year means new classrooms, classmates and teachers. There is no doubt that the last year and a half has been challenging for many of us, but as school goes back to in-person sessions, children will have to adapt yet again.

Changes students are likely to see this school year include the use of face masks, limitations on spending time with their old friends on the playground due to social distancing, and the possibility that the school year may have to change again if cases and deaths continue to rise. According to Behavioral Health Director at Families Together, Yvette Visconte, children can exhibit physical signs of stress and anxiety in the following ways:

  • Stomachaches, headaches, difficulty sleeping and nausea
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Struggling to pay attention in class
  • Attachment to parents before school drop-off, including crying and tantrums
  • Irritability and anger

My Child is Showing Signs of Stress or Anxiety – What Should I Do?

When children are showing signs of anxiety and stress, Visconte advises parents to consider taking action by talking to their child. Being aware of these signs and addressing them as soon as possible is also important, Visconte says, and doing so can prevent long term or severe symptoms. Different ways that parents can bring up the topic include: 

  • Creating your child’s favorite meal and bring up the conversation during dinner time
  • Give words of encouragement when being dropped off at school or doing homework
  • Ask question on how their day is going or if they are struggling with the new routine

Having these sorts of conversations with their child will help parents better understand their child’s struggles.  It can also help with establishing a better routine if needed. Parents can also talk to their child’s teacher or seek out a counselor for additional support.

Varying age groups will need different forms of support. For younger children, showing affection and spending time together is really important. On the other hand, older children and teens might respond to parents leaning into group activities such as watching a movie or playing a video game together. However, giving them space when needed and being available whenever they reach out for help might work as well . 

Children generally adapt easily to change, but as several studies show, structure and routine are an important aspect of development. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, children have been deprived of a regular routine and signs of stress and anxiety may be more likely to be exhibited as they adjust to the new school year. As long as parents keep an eye out for the major signs, and talk to their children about what they’re noticing, children will have a better chance of settling into life in the classroom. 

Families Together offers various mental health resources for parents and children such as support groups and counseling. For more information, visit our behavioral health page.