Dealing With Back to School Anxiety

There's always an increase in anxiety and anger management concerns at the start of the school year.

The ease of summer makes way, once again, for the stress, structure, and high expectations of the school year. And no matter the age of your child, the transition back to school can be difficult. So, how can you help your child prepare for and manage the stress?

Step #1: Start preparing them at least a month ahead.

Walk through the upcoming start of the school year, and talk through any concerns that they have. If possible for your younger children, or children who will be transitioning to middle or high school, walk through the school with them and explore potential scenarios to deal with - like opening their locker for the first time, where to find the front office or counselor's office, and how to deal with strict teachers.

Step #2: Review what went well last year.

What successes did your child experience last school year? Any exceptional grades, or projects that were very well received? It helps to take a minute to discuss positive experiences from the previous year, to help your child start to think about what good can come out of this upcoming year.

Step #3: Problem solve.

Children that are prone to anxiety are often able to come up with hundreds of potential stressful scenarios, as their brains work on hyper-drive in an effort to protect themselves. Give them the space to dialogue with you on their concerns, and recognize that more may come up every day. A calm reassurance, along with helping them come up with solutions to these potential problems, goes a long way. Make sure you guide them to come up with some solutions on their own, instead of just charging ahead and telling them what they could do.

Step #4: Identify the helpers at school.

You may even arrange a meeting with the principal, school counselor or social worker, or classroom teacher before the start of the year. Many schools have preparation days for their staff the week before school starts. You can coordinate with the school administrators to help ease some of your child's fears through making the unknown LESS unknown. 

If you're curious about counseling as a next step to manage anxious or angry behaviors, contact Kelsey at compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com to schedule a free 15 minute phonecall and talk about next steps. Kelsey works in St. Louis, MO and helps families in Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Brentwood, and Maplewood.