Focusing on the positive can help kids calm their back to school worries

Ask a Therapist: A column by Community Reach
Posted 8/20/18

Dear Ask A Therapist, What can I do about my son’s anxiety as the school year begins? Dear Parent, A new school year can bring anxiety for both parents and children. If you are anxious for your …

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Focusing on the positive can help kids calm their back to school worries

Posted

Dear Ask A Therapist,

What can I do about my son’s anxiety as the school year begins?

Dear Parent,

A new school year can bring anxiety for both parents and children. If you are anxious for your son, he can tell. Parents can start to support their children by modeling the desired behavior, staying calm and showing confidence in your child. When adults take children’s feeling seriously, have honest conversations with them and give them lots of support, children can learn ways to cope with separation and new beginnings successfully both now and in the future.

Anxious children often do not feel hungry or get enough sleep, which can impact your son’s ability to cope with a new school year. Beginning to create a consistent school schedule (morning and bedtime habits as well as sleep schedules) a couple of weeks before school starts and preparing nutritional snacks for your son can go a long way in helping him cope during those first few weeks. Helping your son focus on the positive, such as reviewing activities or academic areas he excels in and reviewing these together can support him in building resiliency, withstanding stress and coping with challenges.

You can help him build a strong sense of confidence by acknowledging and encouraging his efforts and avoiding comparisons to siblings and friends or peers. And whenever possible, include your son in daily activities that help build independence, competence and learning - such as cooking, doing laundry, setting the table, weeding a garden or organizing his room.

Prepare your son for the new school year by arranging for a short tour of the school or new classroom. Take advantage of back- to- school night, where he can meet his teacher, see his desk and possibly see old friends that will be in the new classroom with him. You may even have his old teacher give him some information about his new teacher or teachers.

Schools want students to be successful. Communicate with your son’s school as they are experts in helping children transition every year. They should have plenty of support staff and suggestions that will ease both your and your son’s anxiety about the new school year.

Kellee Clark, MS, LMFT is a family outpatient therapist at Community Reach Center in Thornton.

Submit your questions to Ask A Therapist at askATherapist@CommunityReachCenter.org This column is for educational purposes only, and opinions are not necessarily those of this publication. Answers are not a substitute for regular or urgent medical consultation and treatment.

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