School Anxiety and Your Child
Those first few weeks of school are usually tough on kids. They may experience a higher level of anxiety due to a change in their daily routine. This anxiety can manifest itself in the form of physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach-aches as well as other symptoms including irritability, quickness to anger, crying, and sleeping issues.
Anxiety in response to change is common for all ages, and one of the most helpful things you can do is reassure your child that this feeling is normal. It helps to talk to your child about one of your own experiences with anxiety and how you handled it. This will let the child know that their feelings are normal and that they too can manage their anxiety.
You can also help by determining whether there is a specific issue that is making your child anxious. For example, is she concerned about her teachers? Fitting in with her peers? Being overwhelmed by class work or homework? Or is it something as simple as managing a new locker combination or schedule? For some children, simply putting the problem into words and talking about it can help immensely. Another effective coping mechanism is to expose the child to whatever is causing the anxiety. A person cannot be talked out of anxiety, exposure to the feared situation is essential to overcoming the anxiety. Only with exposure can the child learn how to deal with situation. It is a good idea to repeat exposure until it becomes routine or boring.
Finally, showing love and support are essential to helping a child deal with anxiety. Again, talking about your own experiences will show her she is not alone and that others have dealt with the same issues and succesfully overcame them.
If the child doesn't show any improvement in dealing with the anxiety, even after utilizing the above tools, it is a good idea to have your child speak with a professional who can help them cope. Your EFAP can help them develop successful strategies for dealing with stressful situations, reducing anxiety, and making life more managable for everyone involved.