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Staying positive helps with school anxiety
Midsection Of Mother Holding Daughter Hand While Taking Her To School

Staying positive helps with school anxiety

By DR. KIM BARRACCO on August 6, 2019

The start of the school year can bring excitement … but it can also bring anxiety. Children can be nervous about heading back to school for a number of reasons: starting with a new teacher, unsure if they will make friends, or concerns about passing their classes.

Here are some tips I give to parents to help ease back to school jitters:

Why does my child get nervous before heading to school? 

It's a new environment and your child is unprepared for what is going to happen. Before the school year starts, prepare them with frequent conversations regarding expectations. Parents should discuss this in a calm manner, without negativity.

What are ways I can calm these nerves? 

Talk with your child. Discuss school and teachers in a positive manner and what will be expected of them. Don't make negative comments.

How can I get them back into the school routine? 

Start early by creating a routine. At least one to two weeks before school starts, implement that routine so they are prepared. Remove electronics at night as they start their bedtime routine.

What if my child won't get out of bed? What do I do? 

Set a consistent routine. If you have trouble waking them or getting them out of bed, then wake them earlier and send them to bed earlier. Limit sugar and caffeine. The day prior, discuss your expectations about getting up and getting ready. Make sure electronics are put away at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to ensure your child is getting rest.

If my child feels they are getting picked on at school, what advice should I give them? 

First, tell your child to address the issue with their teacher and make you aware at home. If it continues, then tell them to go to the guidance counselor or principal. Parents should be involved with teacher conferences and in contact with school/teachers to determine if any issues are going on with their child.

Also, monitor your child for any physical symptoms. If they are routinely trying to miss school with vague symptoms like a stomachache, then that needs to be addressed further to see if there is an underlying issue.

Parents and teachers should be aware that sometimes bullying at school can lead to serious situations, like suicide. Professional counseling or contacting the school counselor may be needed to help the issue.

How early should my child go to bed on a school night? 

Bedtimes depend on the child, but bedtime should be early enough to ensure that you are not having tired children who are difficult to wake in the morning.

What is a good breakfast to feed them before school? 

It is best to avoid sugary foods for breakfast. Feed them food that will fill them up so that they can do well in the morning. They need to eat breakfast every morning to help start the day. Good breakfast foods can include oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, peanut butter or cheese. These will keep them feeling full for longer.

How can I help my child get organized?

Start at an early age teaching your child about how to keep their schoolwork organized. They should organize their backpack and notebooks each day to ensure that their work is turned in and doesn't get lost.

How can I protect my child from getting sick at the start of the school year? 

Teach your child about proper hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before meals or snacks. Discuss the proper way to sneeze or cough into the bend of their arm.

Dr. Kim Barracco is a pediatrician at Union Medical Center — Center for Pediatrics. To make an appointment, call 864-429-8846.