How to help your child with back to school stress and anxiety

Separation from parents and caregivers or just getting used to new surroundings can contribute to anxiety
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The first day of school is right around the corner for many school districts in central Wisconsin. As students and parents prepare for the new school year, some may be experiencing back-to-school anxiety.

According to psychologists, students of different ages can experience different emotions while heading back to school. Younger kids can feel a sense of separation from their parents, while older students adjust to being in a new setting.

“School takes a lot of emotional and mental energy,” said Dr. Brian Weiland, a psychologist, and co-owner of the Behavioral Health Clinic in Wausau.

The transition into the new school year can be an exciting yet anxious time for students.

”The main concerns I tend to see with kids are socially related,” said Dr. Weiland. “Are people going to like me? Am I wearing the kinds of clothes that people think are cool or fun these days?”

For some students, the beginning of the school year can be a time of uncertainty.

“Whether they’re transitioning into a new school or different grade it’s kind of, what does this look like? Who are my teachers,” said Heidi Pritzl, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist at Aspirus Koller Behavioral Health.

To help with the back-to-school jitters, Dr. Weiland created an acronym to help parents and students shift into the school year. C.L.A.S.S. stands for communication, lifestyle adjustments, awareness, set expectations, and start preparing.

“So ‘C’ being communication is key. So whether our kids are little or older, having good communication about maybe what their worries are,” said Weiland.

Dr. Weiland also said to be aware of what is going on in your child’s life and set realistic expectations.

”Instead of comparing our kids to the other kids, it might be a good idea to try to compare our children to themselves. How did they do last year? How do we expect that they’ll do this year,” said Dr. Weiland.

Both agree to start the school year prepared and organized.

”Planning ahead is probably one of the most important things,” said Weiland.

“Getting to know your teachers, seeing the school and what it looks like,” said Pritzl.