In addition to adjusting to new classes, teachers and friends, kids and teens will face a school year that looks quite a bit different from years past. For some, these changes and unknowns may lead to increased anxiety about returning to the classroom.
Every kid expresses anxiety differently. Some are able to express their concerns verbally. But some non-verbal signs include headaches, stomachaches, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and irritable or aggressive behavior.
If you suspect your child is anxious about returning to school, try these steps to help them feel better:
- Listen carefully – Kids want their parents to listen to them – but they don’t always want you to fix their problems. Having you listen, understand and validate their feelings and concerns is often enough to help them feel better.
- Focus on the positives – Remind them that going back to school means seeing their teachers and classmates, taking the classes they want and perhaps participating in after-school activities again. To go along with this, it may also help to limit exposure to the news. While being informed is important, it’s not helpful to watch the news obsessively or ruminate over current events.
- Model a healthy attitude and behavior – Kids look up to their parents. When you eat healthy, get regular exercise, stick to a sleep schedule, are kind and don’t blame others, your kids are more likely to do the same.
- Get acclimated – Since it’s been awhile since kids have been in a school setting, take them over for a short visit before classes start. Just seeing the building and playing on the playground may help them feel better about going back.
- Do daily check-ins – Take a few minutes every day to ask your kids how they’re feeling and if they have any concerns. Sometimes kids don’t share what they’re thinking and feeling unless asked.
- Practice mindfulness – Every day, take some time to practice relaxation and breathing exercises with your kids. These exercises are ones they can use on their own when they feel stressed or anxious.
- Talk about steps to help prevent disease – Actionable items, such as wearing a mask, washing their hands, not sharing food with friends, and practicing social distancing, can help kids feel a sense of control, which may help soothe their anxiety.
If your child has anxiety about going back to school, help is available. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health offers free assessments and has both in-person and virtual therapy options to help kids address their concerns and feel better about going back to school. To learn more, visit us online or call 630-305-5027.