NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Most students get a few butterflies on the first day of school, but for some it’s much more.
There are lots of reasons kids might be anxious about school from separation from parents or friends, fear of bullying or concerns about school shootings and their safety.
So what’s a parent to do?
Anne Russell, a licensed clinical social worker at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, said, “As parents, we can’t stop stressors from happening, our life from happening but we can model and teach our kids healthy coping.
Russell advises you can help your children by starting with the basics. This means making sure they’re eating properly and getting enough sleep. It also means scheduling exercise and downtime, and find ways to relax.
“We want to give them as many tools in their tool box to be able to handle life’s challenges and stressors,” Russell said.
Make sure they know you understand their fears are real and encourage them to overcome. Remind children of past successes and strengths.
“I remember last year you felt the same way and I remember you came home so excited at the end of the day cause you made three new friends,” Russell said.
If your child’s worries are about their safety come up with a family plan. Discuss how you and the school would handle or react to different situations. You may want to designate a meeting spot and make sure they know important phone numbers.
If their anxiety continues for weeks and interferes with daily living, make an appointment with your pediatrician.