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Published on August 20, 2013

Kids with backpacks and books

How to Handle Back-to-School Jitters

It’s hard to believe, but the start of the new school year is already upon us. For some children, this means returning to a group of friends they haven’t seen much of all summer. For others, starting school may be a brand new thing! For young children, especially those starting kindergarten, the thought of school may bring about a state of anxiety. Here are some tips to help make the transition a little easier.

The Fear of Something New

Often the biggest source of anxiety is the fact that school will be a completely new experience, especially for those who did not attend preschool. If time allows, it may be helpful to bring your child to the school to meet the new teacher and explore the classroom, restrooms, etc. Taking a little tour of the school will also help so that your child knows where to go when that first day rolls around.

Another thing that will help is to get your child excited about the start of something new. Shopping for new school supplies and picking out that first-day-of-school outfit helps reinforce that school is a positive thing. It may also be helpful to practice the new morning routine the week prior to school starting. Getting up at the new time, making sure the backpack is all ready to go, and walking to the bus stop (for those who will be riding the bus) will help make that first day a little less chaotic.

Tough Transitions

But school anxiety doesn’t just affect those starting school for the first time. Older children, who may be transitioning to a new school because they recently moved, or because they are starting middle or high schools, can be anxious about the experience. Be sure to talk to your children about how they are feeling and think about ways that may help them ease into their new school environment.

Addressing Persistent Anxiety

Usually, first-day jitters quickly go away once kids get into their new routine. For some children though, school may be a continued source of anxiety, for a variety of different reasons. Bullying is a common example. Sometimes this can manifest with vague symptoms, such as a headache, stomachache, or vomiting, especially in the mornings. If the child stays home, his or her symptoms often quickly resolve only to return again the next morning. These are signs that your child may have more a more generalized form of anxiety and it is something you should discuss with his or her pediatrician.

Fortunately though, most children quickly adjust to their new routine and come home excited every day to show you all the things they learned. Being actively involved in their school experience will help them, and you, make that transition even easier!

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