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Four Tips to Beating Back-to-School Anxiety

by Lindsay Grisebach
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The beginning of September means the beginning of many other things in Canada. Fall is just around the corner, bringing with it colder temperatures, falling leaves, pumpkin spice flavoured everything, apple picking and other things associated with the season.

One big event September brings may not come with such warm feelings of nostalgia for many children and teens. It’s also back to school season.

The first days and weeks of a new school year are often cause for anxiety of varying degrees and for many different reasons for youth and teenagers.

Here is a list of a few ways you can help your teen work through their fears and make the return to the school day schedule a success.

1) Be Prepared - Some common anxieties that come with the school year are about the unknown. Will they have the same lunch period as their friends? Who are their teachers? If it’s a new school, will they get lost? What will they wear? Taking steps such as getting their schedule ahead of time, booking an orientation or tour of a new school, and planning a back-to-school shopping trip together can help them get a better picture of what their first day, and the school year, might look like. School staff are often available in late August as well, and reaching out could ease some anxiety.

2) Set up a Schedule - The switch from summer vacation to a school schedule can be a tough adjustment. Now is a good time to help your teen scale back their bedtime, start waking up earlier and eat their meals at the proper times so the first week back doesn’t seem like such a big adjustment. Also make sure they eat a healthy breakfast and pack a healthy lunch. Sometimes when stressed, people tend to skip meals, but getting nutritious foods can help them to feel better and have more energy.

3) Maintain Open Dialogue/Work Together – Encourage your teen to tell you about their anxiety and what they’re feeling. Reassure them that it’s normal, and possibly tell them about some of your struggles and insecurities as a teen so they know you can relate. Ask them to list off the things they do enjoy at school, and suggest they join clubs, sports or other after school programs to meet friends with similar interests.

4) Know When to Seek Professional Help – There are times when your help may not be enough for your child. If their anxiety starts to affect their day-to-day life and doesn’t get any better in the weeks that follow the start of school, it may be time to seek professional help. For more information about walk-in assessments and counselling services, visit Front Door’s Website.

You will find more useful tips, advice and information on the subject of back-to-school anxiety at Family Education, Psychology Today and Anxiety Canada.