Back-to-school anxiety, and how to handle it

Tears, tummy-aches, tantrums on Monday morning are tough for parents to handle. But they’re even harder on kids suffering from anxiety at back-to-school time.


Anxiety - not depression - has become the leading mental health issue among children aged 6 to 17, with research showing a 20% uptick between 2007 and 2012.

Researchers estimate that today’s students are six times more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders than kids a couple of generations back. In fact, nearly a third of all young people aged 13-18 today will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life, according to the National Institutes of Health. Among girls, nearly four in ten will.

Why is this happening now?

A growing number of researchers are identifying links between anxiety and excessive screen-time

Theories abound, but a growing number of researchers are identifying links between anxiety and excessive screen-time. Among other factors, they point to the impact of:

  • social media, with its relentless and stress-inducing emphasis on image, ‘likes’ and ‘followers’

  • gaming, which can over-stimulate kids and encourage young nervous systems to shift into “fight or flight” mode

  • poor sleep habits, driven by night-time device use

  • isolation, as a result of long hours online

  • displacement of RL (real-life) activities and interactions that allow kids to develop social competencies.

iStock-669907324

 

What parents can do

Manage screen-time

If your child is showing signs of anxiety around school, limiting screen-time is an obvious place to begin. But keep in mind that the online world is a refuge for many anxious kids - and the last thing you want to do is deprive them of that comfort by instituting extreme measures.

Boundaries are healthy - especially when established with your child’s cooperation and input. Harsh rules are not, and may even achieve the opposite outcome, fuelling rather than containing anxiety.

Facilitate a relationship with the teacher

Children need to feel connected to an adult they can trust to keep them safe. At school, that means establishing an attachment to the teacher. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if he’s  feeling anxious, and request some special attention to make sure he is successful in making that all-important connection.

shutterstock_290588012

Help your child make friends

Making even one friend is generally all it really takes to help an anxious child settle in - someone to sit with at lunch or chase after at recess. Take an active role by encouraging playdates. Get to know the parents of the children your child gravitates toward.

Encourage your child to express his worries

That’s the best way for her to realise she can handle them! Experts say most school anxiety is caused by worries that adults would call irrational - such as a fear of dying at school (or, in the case of my own son’s pre-primary anxiety, of getting flushed down the toilet!). You can’t help your child deal with his fears til you know what they are.

Be empathic - but not too empathic!

It’s important to acknowledge your child’s concerns but at the same time try to emphasise your confidence that school is a fun, safe place where he will be happy. And don’t forget the power of laughter. Give him as many opportunities to giggle as possible - especially in the morning before school begins. (Exception: Avoid tickling! This can actually increase kids’ stress hormones.)

louisck

Be super-punctual at pick-up time

In the crucial transition-to-school days, it’s so important for your child to come out of school and see you immediately. If you’re running late, get a friend to help - or send a message to the school.

Too much screen-time and too little sleep have both been shown to drive anxiety.

Use Family Zone to limit screens and turn off internet access at bedtime.

Show me how

Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, online gaming, Social Media, anxiety, sleep deprivation

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | teens on social media
    Can we talk? 100 questions your teen might actually answer
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | roblox | sleep
    Family Zone: Now blocking Roblox with a single click
    Cyber Bullying | Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | online predators | tiktok | paedophile | child predator | Likee
    LIKEE: What parents need to know about this risky TikTok wannabe
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | Fortnite | discord
    Discord: What parents need to know
    Parental Controls | online gaming | Social Media | primary school | krunker
    Krunker has landed - and it's got our kids in the crosshairs

    Recent posts

     
    How TikTok's funhouse mirror is distorting our kids' view of the world

    TikTok's algorithm pushes vulnerable kids toward risky content and risky behaviours, from eating disorders to self-harm.

     
    Would you pay to limit your own social media screen-time?

    We love our social platforms - but we also wish we spent less time on them.  A new study has found adult users are happy to pay for help in ...

     
    "Constant overstimulation" affecting kids' learning

    Teachers who've been observing concerning changes in students’ wellbeing aren’t imagining things. The constant overstimulation from screens ...

     
    Your child has less privacy online than kids in the US, UK & Ireland

    Aussie kids are sitting ducks for targeted online ads and privacy pirates, and will remain so until we enact protective legislation.