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7 Ways to help your child with back-to-school anxiety

Carolyn Rahaman is a professional SSAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Master's degree in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University.

No matter the age or level of schooling, students tend to feel overwhelmed as the new school year approaches. Show your child how to deal with these anxieties in a healthy way with the following advice.

It is both common and normal for children to experience back-to-school anxiety. Multiple aspects of education can be extremely stressful, as students must strive to do well both academically and socially. This is true for students of many ages, not just high schoolers. However, you can do your part to ease the transition by following the below steps.

1. Recognize the signs

Anxiety manifests in a variety of ways. Small children may act younger than their age, while other students may become aggressive or obstinate; they may fight with their siblings or with you. Children might also complain of headaches or stomachaches. Watch for these signs, and recognize when you need to step in and help.

2. Communicate with your student

The most important thing you can do is speak to your child about his or her fears. Certain anxieties like, "Who will pick me up from school?" and "I'm out of pencils," can be easily alleviated with a direct show of love and support. Do not trivialize your student's concerns. Problem-solve collaboratively for more pressing scenarios like doing poorly in his or her classes.

3. Avoid compounding anxiety

You are a rock during your child's time of anxiety. While you may talk with your spouse or close friends about the anxiety you feel as you watch your student struggle with school, do not transfer these concerns to your child. Perhaps you are worried about how your student will fare in math this year, but if your child hears you, she may begin the year convinced that math is a lost cause. If you make it clear that you wish she could stay home with you, she may come to believe she should.

4. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Eliminate as many variables as possible; be prepared. Purchase your student's school supplies as soon as possible. Pack his or her lunch the evening prior. Practice morning procedures in the weeks before school begins.

5. Speak with the school

Inquire about whether you can introduce your child to her teacher(s) or receive her schedule ahead of time. Take a tour of the school so your student knows where to find her classroom(s), the bathroom, etc. You might also introduce your child to older students who can answer her questions. Reach out to teachers to let them know that your student is anxious, as well as to ask for advice and arrange a united front.

6. Address social worries

Often, anxiety involves the social aspects of your child's life at school. Encourage your child to ask his or her friends which classes they share. Can they eat lunch together or see one another at recess? Arrange play dates during the summer so he or she can rekindle his or her friendships.

7. Address academic worries

You can minimize your student's academic concerns in a number of ways. For instance, to prepare for classes in which she struggles, you can communicate with teachers to ask about curricula.

With understanding, patience and communication, you can help your child overcome his or her back-to-school anxiety.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

Photo credit: SolStock/iStock/360/Getty Images
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