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Back to school anxiety  from Harvard Health Publishing

Back to school anxiety from Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Ann Pedersen
Friday, August 23, 2019


 Heading back to school sparks an upswing in anxiety for many children: separating from parents, meeting academic expectations, managing peer groups, and navigating hallways and cafeterias, are examples of worries. 

 It’s typical for children to experience some anticipatory anxiety leading up to the new school year. 

 But for some children the return to school can be very stressful and change behavior. Examples of above-average anxiety around the return to school include:

  • Continually seeking reassurance or asking repeated, worried questions despite already receiving an answer. 
  • Increased physical complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue in the absence of an actual illness
  • A significant change in sleep pattern. 
  • Avoiding school-related activities, or avoiding school itself.

How to help with back to school anxiety

Approach anxiety instead of avoiding it.It’s natural to want to avoid situations that make you anxious, however, this can actually contribute to a cycle that reinforces anxiety. Instead, acknowledge the emotion and help think through small steps to approach, rather than avoid, 

Practice school routines, Before the start of the year, do a school day walk-through of the morning routine: waking up, eating breakfast, packing the school bag. Support your child in problem-solving around difficult points.

Please know that the staff in Lawrence is here to help you and your child in all ways. Should your child be experiencing anxiety, give the school a call and a teacher or counselor will be happy to help. We probably all remember when WE were anxious about school!