Managing back to school anxiety

Back to School AnxietyCC: Pexels at Pixabay

Now that the new school year has arrived it’s time to tackle a condition that affects children around the county: anxiety. Although school is a source of development and good memories, it’s an anxiety-inducing experience for some. If you’re keen to help your child ease into the new academic year in a way that helps them thrive, you need to learn more about managing back to school anxiety.

Recognize common teenage stressors

Managing back to school anxiety is easier when you’re aware of common teenage stressors and how they arise in educational environments. Despite the name, it’s worth understanding that these stressors tip into other age categories too.

Academic pressure

Everyone is at school to achieve, but some children may find academic pressure more overwhelming than others. If a child is excelling more in some areas than others but they don’t receive recognition for their efforts, academic pressure may result in anxiety. The pressure becomes more acute during key years as well. For example, when there are big tests or college applications on the horizon.

Unmet learning needs

As the world’s understanding of education develops, different learning styles are getting the recognition they deserve. However, that doesn’t mean that all learning methods are available in all schools. Additionally, children who have undiagnosed or newly-diagnosed Special Educational Needs (SEN) may be lacking in support.

Peer problems

It isn’t unusual for children to experience anxiety as a result of peer problems. Making and keeping friends can be difficult when your emotional resilience is still developing. Similarly, when peer behaviors and values differ to the ones they experience at home, your children may find their friendships confusing.

Developing life skills

In addition to broadening their academic horizons, your children will develop an astonishing number of life skills at school. As they adjust to those skills, they may feel anxiety and frustration. Time management, journey planning, and meeting deadlines are all examples of those skills.

Ways to help your child manage back to school anxiety

Now that you’re aware of what may be causing back to school anxiety, you’re probably better equipped to tackle the issue. The first step is to acknowledge the problem. Although it’s natural to want to help your child avoid things that scare them, it isn’t a useful tactic. School is going to happen and your child will feel much happier having you on their side than having you dismiss the issue.

Model calm behavior

No matter what age your child is, the response they have to their anxieties can feel frustrating. If you respond with frustration, you’re likely to make their anxiety worse. Whether they’re young and throwing a tantrum or a teen who is in a bad mood, remain calm and open to their thoughts.

Give them some control

Just like adults, children feel more anxious when they feel as though they don’t have control of a situation. Give them some control with smaller tasks, such as choosing what they have for lunch or scheduling a meetup with friends.

Promote a good sleep routine

A poor night’s sleep makes anxiety worse, which then results in even worse sleep again. Try to help your child regulate their sleep-wake cycle with good sleep hygiene.

If you find that back to school anxiety worsens to their point that it interferes with your child’s education, you may need to speak to a licensed mental health professional. Through the course of your struggle, always remember that this isn’t an insurmountable problem.


About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.