Kids, teens and young adults are all transitioning back to school. For those starting pre-school through to high school this is an exciting time, but it can also cause stress and anxiety about what to expect from a new school year.
Parents can take steps now to help ease the transition from summer break into the school year, including getting into a routine before school starts, continuing to plan nutritious meals, talking to their children about what may be worrying them, and focusing on the positive.
Some signs that your child or teen might be feeling anxious about starting school are sudden behaviour changes such as:
- crying more than usual or having temper tantrums
- feeling irritable or quick to anger
- complaining of headaches or stomach pains with no medical explanation
- acting more withdrawn or avoiding social situations and events
- worrying constantly about different school-related issues, including teachers, friends, fitting in and/or being away from their parents
If your child or teen is feeling stressed or anxious about school, here are some things you can do:
- Encourage your child to share his or her fears by setting up a regular time to talk and continue this throughout the school year
- Try role-playing situations they may face at school
- Plan for transitions, including getting to school and returning to school after vacations and holidays
- Help your child to develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills
- Be mindful of your own behaviour – model confidence and comfort when your child is anxious
- Celebrate small accomplishments
Get more information on coping with back-to-school anxiety.
Use the links below to find more information on supporting children and youth at each age.
Elementary school age:
- While your child might seem grown up as they head off to school, family relationships are still the biggest factor in her development. This article explains ways to keep strong connections.
- Your child will likely start making new friends from school. You may have questions about what to expect. Read these answers to frequently asked questions from parents.
Middle school and high school age:
- Middle school and high school are when your child begins to discover who they are. You may notice them striving for more independence, seeking greater responsibility, and searching for new experiences. Support your child through these changes by acting as a positive role model, getting to know their friends, and listening to your child’s feelings and thoughts. Read this article to learn more.
- Resilience is a person’s ability to cope with challenges, deal with negative feelings, and bounce back after a negative experience. It is important for young people to build resilience as they grow, read this article to learn how you can encourage resiliency in your teen.
Anxiety BC: Coping with Back to School Anxiety
Harvard Health Blog: 7 tips to help your child start school for the first time