Back to School Anxiety in Kids

July 31, 2018

Back to School Anxiety in Kids

While it’s not uncommon for parents to delight in their children going back to school, many kids are fearful of this incredibly dramatic shift in their daily routines. Being around other kids, meeting new people and being in an unfamiliar environment can be downright frightening for a child. Back-to-school anxiety in kids is not at all uncommon and affects nearly half of all children in the school system. Some parents who are dealing with children who have severe cases of anxiety may think about homeschooling options because they do not know how to handle the situation. Recognizing the issue and then knowing how to help your child are the keys to having them overcome their anxiety and worries when entering a new school year.

Anxiety in Children and Teens

It is estimated that 10 percent of all teenagers has an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can range from generalized anxiety to OCD, panic attacks and separation anxiety. Adults who suffer from anxiety disorders often have a safe person with whom they stay constantly, especially when away from home. The same can be said about teenagers, however, when they are required to go to school, they do not have access to this safe person in the way that they want. This can cause their anxiety levels to spike multiple times throughout the day and cause a general dread of having to go to school. Anxiety in kids and teens may surface slightly before the school year starts, but if it is not recognized and helped, can snowball into total fear of going to school, missed days and absences.

Signs of Back-to-School Anxiety in Kids

Kids and teens have a knack for keeping things from their parents. Anxiety and other mental disorders tend to be something that they won’t want to openly share with you unless they have an out-going or reassurance-seeking personality. Because of this hidden problem, there are certain signs and cues to look for that can tell you if your child is suffering from back-to-school anxiety.

Headaches – Anxiety and stress often show up in the form of headaches. If your child is constantly complaining of a headache, especially around the new school year, it could be a sign that they are dealing with anxiety.

Stomach Aches and Nausea – Most adults know this feeling all too well. When you get overly anxious or nervous about something, you begin to feel sick to your stomach, nauseous and uneasy-feeling.

Withdrawal – Kids who have anxiety problems have a tendency to withdraw from others because it can often make their symptoms much worse. If your teen or child is spending a lot of time alone in their room, they may have an anxiety problem.

More Time Spent Online or On Gadgets – Using a cellphone, tablet or computer is a wonderful way to detach yourself from the outside world. Kids who are anxious about something may spend a good portion of their day on their devices just to give their minds something else to do.

Crying – Crying is a perfectly normal reaction to stressful situations, but it could be a sign that your child has an anxiety problem. If they are crying before school every morning or you notice their eyes and face look red like they’ve been crying, they may be nervous to go to school.

How to Help Your Child

Anxiety is a beast that can overtake anyone’s life, especially when a child or teen is dealing with it. Anxiety symptoms can range from dizziness, dissociation, panic and difficulty concentrating. If your child is going to school in a heightened sense of fear, this can deter them from learning correctly. This is why it is crucial that you help your child by listening to them and explaining to them why they should feel calm when planning to go and actually going to school. In some cases, doing a test run of what the school experience might be like will help them to adjust for the actual day when they’ll be going back to school.

Because it can sometimes be difficult to reach out to a child or teen who is struggling with anxiety, it might help for them to get professional treatment. Professional treatment will teach them methods to cope with their anxiety and separation so that they can have a fulfilling and educational experience in school. Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center offers an in-patient program specific to teens of varying backgrounds. The center will help your child to adjust in order to attend school without worry, fear or panic.


Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Child Mind