Psychologists warn parents of back to school anxiety

Aug 5, 2021, 5:27 AM

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SALT LAKE CITY – Psychologists warn parents to watch for back to school anxiety. With the start of the school year only a couple of weeks away, a lot of kids in Utah are feeling anxious about going back.  However, counselors say there are effective ways that parents can ease that anxiety. 

Psychologists warn parents anxiety is real

Psychologists warn parents not every kid is nervous about the beginning of the school year. Those that are, worry about typical things like bullying and getting along with new teachers.  This year is different, according to child psychologist Douglas Goldsmith.  He says he has spoken with many children under the age of 12 who are scared of getting COVID-19.

“They’re scared of picking it up.  They’re scared of taking it home to mom and dad or to grandma and grandpa,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith believes parents should start easing their children back into their school schedule, now.  He recommends parents send their kids to bed 15 minutes earlier every night until school starts.  Plus, he says parents need to get their kids in the back to school mindset. Taking a tour of the school will help ease the child’s tension about the beginning of the year.

“We can explain to the kids, ‘you’re going to go into your classroom, sit down and just say hi to the kids next to you,’” Goldsmith says.

Equip your children emotionally for return to school

Adolescents frequently have something called imaginary audience. This means they truly believe everyone is watching them very closely, analyzing their every move.  Eventually, people grow out of that. Goldsmith says it’s important not to dismiss the child’s feelings when they have them.

“Parents need to respond empathically. ‘I’ll bet that does make you nervous.  I bet you do worry that everyone is going to see that you had stitches in your forehead this weekend,’” he says.

Goldsmith also recommends that parents equip their children with clever, but non-insulting comebacks to use when someone picks on them.  He says they can significantly boost a child’s confidence.

He adds, “some kids are being teased about their bodies.  The kids in high school and junior high school are pretty ruthless and I equip them to say, ‘I’m surprised that my body is that much of a focus to you.’”

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Psychologists warn parents of back to school anxiety