Parenting Tip of the Week: Help Teens Combat Back to School Anxiety

Dr. Purushothaman
September 5, 2013

It’s common for kids to have a lot of anxiety about the start of the school year, especially if they’re entering a new grade or going to a new school. All of these issues weigh very heavily on the minds of teens and pre-teens. And children with any type of impairment—whether it be a neurological one, like stuttering; a physical issue, such as obesity; or behavioural problems—will have anxiety levels that are even more intense than kids who don’t. But the truth of the matter is that almost all kids will experience some elevation in their nervousness and apprehension at the start of school.

I always advise parents to use the tools you have. Talk to your kids in a very positive way about the next year, and connect what you say to something real your child has accomplished. Begin with, “Boy, Tyler, this could be a really great year for you because you worked so hard in algebra class last spring,” or “Hey, Sarah, that time you put into science last year is really going to pay off when you go to middle school.” Or you might say, “Listen, Jack, all that running you did is going to really show the first couple of days of soccer.” Say these kinds of phrases to your child regularly and always make what you say realistic. It’s very important to connect your statements to actual things. So we don’t say, “Hey, Tyler, this is going to be a special year for you because you’re a beautiful person on the inside.” Instead, say, “This is going to be a great year because of how well you’ve learned to get along with the neighbourhood kids this summer.” Always connect it to something tangible that your child can grab onto and affirm because this gives them something real to build on when they’re feeling insecure at school later on.

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