Two weeks from today, children and youth will say hello to a new school year. For many it’s an exciting time, but the change in routine can give some kids back-to-school jitters.
Meeting new teachers, worrying about where to sit at lunch, and wondering if they have classes with friends are common sources of anxiety for students of all ages, all the way from pre-school to high school, according to a ministry of health release.
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“Children and youth can build up a lot of stress and anxiety about having to get back into a routine and what to expect when the new school year begins,” said Dr. Susan Baer, psychiatrist in the mood and anxiety disorders clinic at BC Children’s Hospital. “These feelings are normal, and there are steps parents can take now to help ease the transition from summer break to the new school year.”
Baer recommends parents plan ahead and gradually expose kids to their environment and new schedule.
Tips for parents and caregivers:
Get into a routine one to two weeks before school starts, plan nutritious meals and snacks as well as morning/bedtime habits
Talk to your child about what may be worrying them, try role-playing through situations they may face at school
Plan for transitions, including getting to school and returning to school after vacations
Throughout the school year, encourage your child to share his or her fears by setting up a regular time to talk
Help your child develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills
Be mindful of your own behaviour—model confidence and comfort when your child is anxious
Focus on the positive and celebrate small accomplishments
Consider seeking more help if your child does the following:
Frequent attempts to remain at home or with a caregiver
Refuses to attend school on certain days (field trips)
Refuses to eat in public
Refuses to use public bathrooms
Continually seeks comfort and reassurance
Shows extreme shyness, avoiding social situations or events
Raises physical complaints with no medical explanation (stomach aches, headaches, difficulty catching his or her breath)
Throws tantrums, cries or screams excessively
Begins to act in a way that is ‘out of character’, if a sudden and unexpected behavior change is observed