A variety of factors can cause back-to-school stress and anxiety. These include but are not limited to:
-A change in routine
-Being separated from family
-The fear of the unknown (What will my teacher be like? Who will be in my classes? Will I be able to learn the material?)
-Transitioning from one school to another (whether that is due to moving towns or just moving up from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school)
-A change in support system- new teachers and new friends
-An increase in homework in classes
-Making sure one gets good grades this year
The fear of the unknown can cause anxiety, and the start of something new typically can exacerbate those feelings.
Anxiety can appear through a multitude of symptoms such as:
-Avoidance- not wanting to get up in the morning, not wanting to say bye at drop-off, avoiding doing schoolwork/homework
-Changes in behavior
-Withdrawing from friends and family
-Loss of appetite
-Frequent bathroom trips
To help a child who is worried about school, you can always ask how they are feeling. This open-ended question encourages a child to be more open and allows you to be able to connect with them. You will want to find out what they are nervous about and why they feel they cannot handle going to school. Listening to your child is always important so that you can understand what they are worried about. This leads to validating the child's feelings so you can best help them. Together you can come up with ways to reduce their back-to-school anxieties.
A few techniques to ease this anxiety would be:
-Trying test runs at the new school/classroom/drop off
-Meeting the teacher before the first day
-Arranging for a hand-off with a teacher or friend
-Grounding techniques by naming things around the room, such as 5 things I see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, 1 thing I can taste
-teach them mantras such as:
-"I have been in school before, the first few days might be nerve-wracking, and I've always been able to get through them."
-"Mom/dad/guardian will be there to pick me up at dismissal.”