Doctor offers tips on easing back-to-school anxiety

Helps to meet teacher, explore school beforehand

INDIANAPOLIS - Heading back to school can be a stressful time for both students and their parents. That’s why it’s important to help school children jostle their jitters.

"If your kids have back-to-school jitters, health care professionals say that's very common, especially for children entering pre-school or kindergarten," Franciscan St. Francis Health child psychologist Dr. DeAnn Harvey said. "We'll tell parents to take them to the school or drive by the school to show them, ‘This is the new fun building you're going to go and play, learn new things and do arts and crafts.’"

Parents may also want to consider taking their child to meet the teacher.

“They'll go and see their classroom. See where their desk is going to be,” Dr. Harvey said. “They'll get to have a nice conversation that's relaxing with the teacher when there is no one else there beforehand."
  
There may be more anxiety with middle school and high school, where kids have lockers and change classrooms.

“You can even call your school beforehand and go and walk the path of your day with your parent to help you get acclimated to that new system, because a lot of kids get anxious about that," Harvey said.
 
Parents should students know it's normal to be anxious in a new setting.

“A certain level of anxiety is kinda good,” Harvey said. “It helps get your adrenaline going. It helps you actually jump in and try new things. And that is very normal to go through that."

Experts say school anxiety is on the rise among older kids due to pressures associated with social networking. They say parents should keep a close eye on students' online activity.

Here's something kids should keep in mind: “’Would my mom if she saw this, be OK with what I just typed? Is it appropriate?’"

If any kind of social or school anxiety becomes an impairment, that's when students and parents need to seek help.

“Whether they are being bullied or they are struggling so much academically that their anxiety level goes up so high because the school work is so hard, then you need to follow up with professional care," Harvey said.
 
Parents can call Franciscan St. Francis Behavioral Health at 317-783-8383 for more information.

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