School Anxiety

As the school year continues to be in full swing, you may notice a shift in your child’s behavior.  School is scary for any age group and experiencing nerves, jitters or anxiety is a normal emotion for children.  Worries can include fitting in, being separate from friends, understanding the new school material or getting along with their teachers.
Although it is normal for children to experience anxiety, it is crucial for parents to pay attention to the signs and symptoms before they result in larger issues, such as avoiding school or isolating from classmates.  Common signs of anxiety can present itself through complaining of stomach pains, headaches, irritability or showing withdrawn behavior.  Here are 3 tips on how to stay connected with your child and help alleviate their anxiety.
Tip #1: Listen and Validate
Talking to your child is important but more importantly, make sure they know you are listening to them.  Make eye contact with your child, listen without interrupting and accept their thoughts without judgment.  Try to use phrases such as, “I hear that’s not what you wanted and…” so they know you are attuned to the conversation.  When we acknowledge our children’s fears and concerns, we are validating their emotions and creating a safe environment for them to feel.
Tip #2. Find the Good
When we are overwhelmed or anxious, it can be difficult to find the good in any situation.  Help your child by empathizing with them and then notice the positive.  Empower your children by asking them to show you the positives or lessons learned through their tough days.
Tip #3. Stick to a routine
Once your family has created a regular dinnertime, bedtime and wake up time, it is important to be consistent with this routine.  Adjusting to this new schedule from our summer or vacation schedule can take some time, but it can be really helpful to stick with it throughout the school year.  Being faithful to your routines can bring a sense of calmness and stability for your child even when school may seem chaotic.  The routine is essential for a successful year!
If your child’s anxiety lasts longer than expected, finding a professional counseling service is never far.
To learn more, check out my website at
~Stephanie Gutierrez, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

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