Back-to-School Blues: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety

by Charlie Fletcher August 17, 2023

teacher and schoolboy giving each other high-five

If your child is skittish about returning to school, you can help them overcome their stress so they’re more open to going to class. It’s important that you understand what's behind the anxiety and how to use acceptance and good parenting to help put your child's mind at ease so they can feel better when they leave home each morning.

Know That It’s Normal

The first step to helping your child fight their anxiety is to realize that not all kids will be as emotionally healthy or carefree as others. Being skittish about school and worried about leaving Mom and Dad at home is normal. In fact, studies show that as of 2020, 5.6 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety issues. School is a part of that. However, having stress doesn’t mean that the kids can’t live happy, fulfilled lives inside and outside of class.

While some kids are more open, not every child will approach you and say they’re stressed or feeling down, so pay attention. Potential red flags of childhood anxiety could include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hoarding items that seem insignificant
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

While they’re in school, there might be other signs, like lashing out or being exceptionally quiet. If you get any reports from teachers or administrators, talk to your kids. Then you’ll get a better understanding of what is going on.

You might talk to your kids and try calming tactics and not seem to get through to them. If that doesn’t work or they’re just too afraid to go to school, it may be time to talk to a professional. Some kids may find it easier to get that aid from a doctor while they’re at home, and telehealth can be a great option.

There are many health conditions that an online doctor can treat. Anything from flu symptoms to skin conditions to mental health concerns. It will go much easier if your child is willing to be open and honest when the doctor asks questions. Then they can have a dialog from the comfort of their favorite chair. Telehealth may also be a good option if your child has an anxiety attack at school. It can be a quicker remedy if you want to get them help without driving to the urgent care center or making an appointment for days later.

It Starts At Home

Your child may say that they’re anxious at school, but helping them to overcome their anxiety will often have to start at home.

Start with their diet. The right foods can make kids feel less stressed. For instance, fruits and vegetables are good for the gut, and the antioxidants they include help ease stress. Dairy has vitamins that can also contribute to lower stress levels.

It’s important to encourage your kids to eat healthy at school. But you need to set a good example at home. Provide a wide variety of nutritious foods so they can develop a taste for new things. Also, be a role model for your child. Eat right so they can be more comfortable being like you at school.

Another part of the equation is fostering open communication at home. Encourage your kids to come to you when they’re upset or frightened to go to school. Be open when they come to you with their concerns. You never know when a few encouraging words can give them the confidence to go to school and enjoy it from then on.

Also, show that it’s OK to be anxious. You can even tell them about a time that you were stressed in your young life and how you overcame that issue. If school is too much for them one day, consider allowing them to stay home to take a mental health day. This is a chance to unwind and get their thoughts back in order. Then, they can take on the next day.

Strategies To Help Put Them At Ease

There are also specific activities and strategies you can teach your kids to follow when they’re anxious about going to school or feel stressed in class. Start with basic breathing exercises. One of them is belly breathing. This is where they lie on their back, close their eyes, breathe deeply, and try to relax.

Your kids can also vent their frustrations by journaling when they wake up and before bed. They can make different sections in their journal, including a place where they write out their frustrations so they can get it out of their systems. There should also be a section where they write about their wins at school and the times when they felt great so they can refer to it later and put their mind at ease.

When the children come home from school stressed, you can also get them outside. Take a pleasant stroll through nature. Doing so provides many amazing benefits. For one, having a daily walk provides the structure to help your child gain a sense of predictability, which can help ease their anxiety. Also, walking through the forest with their family can be fun. It’s something to look forward to, which can get them through the school day.

Provide your kids with ways to overcome their anxiety and be there for them when they need you most. You may find that they'll feel better when they wake up each day.

Charlie Fletcher


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