Tips for school anxiety

Pretty biracial teenage girl is smiling and looking at the camera. She is sad or depressed and is sitting outside a public high school. Student is wearing a backpack and classmates are sitting behind her.The new school year has started. Although a new year is often an exciting time for families, school can be very stressful for both parents and children. Here are some tips to help.

Coping strategies for children who experience school anxiety (test, social, refusal):

1. Parents should show excitement and interest while being supportive and encouraging to their children.
2. Younger children may benefit from talking about the schedule and what to expect. Taking children to school to get used to where things are may also help.
3. Let children know its normal to feel a little nervous before a big change.
4. Start getting your children on a school sleep schedule.
5. Older children may adapt better to the start of school if they are involved in some extracurricular activities. For example, some sports programs for older children start sooner.
6. Professional counseling from a qualified mental health specialist can treat anxiety that doesn’t resolve with the above steps.

Coping strategies for children who experience bullying:

1. Be supportive and encouraging and let your child know that it is not their fault.
2. Ask your child what they think should be done and what they have already tried.
3. Speak to your child’s teacher or guidance counselor and ask them to monitor common areas where bullying occurs, such as the playground, lunchroom, etc.
4. Don’t encourage the child to fight back but be prepared to assertively insist the bully leave them alone.
5. Encourage your child to engage in activities with friends and extracurricular activities that can reduce your child’s sense of being alone
6. Exercise has been shown to reduce the effects of bullying. Help your child engage in a period of exercise daily. Better yet, join your child in an exercise activity on a daily basis!
7. Professional counseling from a qualified mental health specialist can reduce the impact of bullying.

These tips are adapted from AACAP Facts for Families Series.