Back-to-school anxiety is a normal part of a child’s transition to school. As parents, it is crucial to be aware of how our children are feeling when it comes to a place where they are spending a majority of their time. There are a lot of reasons why this type of anxiety is normal; such as fear about getting sick, bullying, friendships, and worry about schoolwork. Young kids may worry about a new teacher or the bus. Teenagers, on the other hand, may be worrying about getting up on time. It is important to understand what are the signs and symptoms of anxiety and how stress affects your child and what you can do to help your child with anxiety.
So, as parents, what can we do for our kids that are worried about getting back to school? Well, I have 3 tips to help ease back-to-school anxiety.
Teach Kids to Talk Back to Their Anxiety
The number one thing we can do for a child with anxiety is to empower them to talk back to their anxiety. Let’s say your child is nervous for school, and they say to you, “Mom, I am worried about getting on the bus because I am always lonely on the bus.” If you respond to your child and say, “You are right, I’m sorry, let's drive you to school,” then you are actually accommodating your child’s anxiety. This is a negative reinforcement loop which is when their anxiety is actually reinforced. Instead, you can handle a situation like this by saying, “Ok, you are worried about the bus. I hear you. What makes you feel lonely?” Then you can dive into what makes them feel lonely. Teaching your child that stress is real and that some things can be stressors is important, because working through your child’s anxiety is crucial. We don’t want to give in to their anxiety or teach them to give into their anxiety inadvertently.
Teaching our kids how to problem-solve around their anxiety and to talk to them about it is extremely important. We do not want to give into kids’ anxiety, or even ignore their feelings and make them “just deal with it.” Prompt your child to think about what is actually making them uncomfortable or what is sparking their worries. What does that feel like in their body? I like to tell parents that learning how to manage stress is not just a gift for today, but a gift for the future. These are stress incolulators which help us propel stress and deal with it when it happens.
Validate and Be Supportive Without Accommodating Their Anxiety
Another way to help your child with back to school anxiety is to talk to them about their worries and use supportive statements. You may say, “So I hear that you are having a hard time, how can I help you?” or “You made it on the bus yesterday, amazing! What was different about being on the bus? How did you get through that?” Offering supportive statements is extremely useful and helps kids get out of any uncomfort that they may be feeling. You can check out my Teletherapy Book™ which offers a lot of supportive statements that parents can use to help their kids when they are feeling uncomfortable and stressed.
Give Positive Reinforcement For Problem Solving
Offer lots of positive reinforcement, both in your child’s attempts to manage their anxiety and their success. Positive reinforcement can never hurt, and from a neuroscience perspective, it is the way to reinforce behavior. You can say things like, “Wow, you really handled that like a champ, give me a high five!” Or with a teenager, you may say “I saw you pick your clothes off your floor, I am really proud of you.” Celebrating the little wins is a great thing, because they do not always have to be big! Positive reinforcement is all about helping guide and shape behaviors, specifically positive behaviors that we want to continually see our kids continue to display.
Although it may be hard as a parent to see your child face anxiety and worries that come up with getting in the back-to-school groove, it is good to be aware that you can help your child and give them the tools to manage their stress in healthy ways.
For more information, check out my Youtube video on How to Help Your Child Handle Back to School Anxiety.
Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”
Are you looking for SOLUTIONS for your struggling child or teen?
Dr. Roseann and her team are all about solutions, so you are in the right place!
There are 3 ways to work with Dr. Roseann:
You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.
If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s media page and professional speaking page to see how we can work together.
Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.”
She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.