By: Colleen Andre, LMHC
You have everything ready and set for your teen’s first few weeks back to school. Clothes shopping is done, new school supplies are bought, and lunches are prepped for the week. Everything is planned and perfect. Until you realize your teen’s back to school anxiety starts creeping in. The next thing you know, you are trying to calm down your hyperventilating child while coaxing him or her to attend school.
Anxiety disorders are one of the leading psychiatric disorders during childhood, according to the Child Institute Children’s Mental Health Report. No parent expects back-to-school anxiety to kick in so quickly or to even occur at all. But, many teens become easily overwhelmed by increasing school work or peer relational issues. Here are 5 tips to help your teen with back to school anxiety.
Tip #1: Routine
Teens live in chaos when they are left to their own devices. Therefore, it is important to create or help formulate with your teen a weekly school routine. Routine gives them a sense of order and order will help them calm down when anxiety kicks in.
Tip #2 Discipline
Teens are procrastinators, many if not all are at some point. They might spend the entire day playing but then spend the last few hours of the night cramming. If a teen only has a few hours before school begins to finish a project or study for an exam then, of course, their fear will sky rocket. Consistent cramming will only lead to high anxiety. As a result, set limits with your teen to help them create discipline and to decrease anxiety.
Tip # 3 Play
On the other hand, back to school anxiety also sets in when all work and no play becomes the normal routine. High achieving teens, such as honors or AP students, become so focused on doing well that they begin to neglect their wellness. School becomes the only priority and leisure no longer exists. An imbalance or work and play is a severe detriment to kids. They have no outlet to release pressure built up from 5 days a week of intense learning and homework until they finally explode. Encourage your teen to engage in play activities whether it is a hobby, sport, etc. as a healthy balance to heavy workloads.
Tip #4 Equip
Back-to-school anxiety is most frightening because when an anxiety or panic attack occurs, teens may have no idea how to stop it. Equip your child with a few coping skills to help them manage upsets rather than rely on you to fix them. Equipping him or her with tools will help your teen feel more confident to deal with his or her fears head on. In this blog article, I discuss a few simple tips on how to manage anxiety and panic attacks.
Tip # 5 Encourage
Even though teens are slowly becoming adults, they still need encouragement to help strengthen them. One fear frequently embedded into children is the fear of disappointing their parents. Therefore, a simple solution is to reassure teen of your care and love regardless of performance. Of course, all parents want their children to do well in school. But, it is important to recognize when that want is subconsciously adding more and more unbearable pressure on your teen. Help your child by highlighting improvements and acknowledging their efforts instead of only focusing on what he or she needs to or should do.
Do not let back to school anxiety take control of your teen. You can take proactive steps to prevent your child from being overwhelmed and paralyzed by a preventable issue. If you need additional support feel free to call Life Counseling Solutions at 407.622.1770 to set up an appointment or a free 15-minute consultation with me. Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram for more tips, encouragement, and posts.
About Colleen: Colleen values the importance of a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere. At the heart of her work, she seeks to create a safe environment in which clients can feel at ease while working through life’s difficulties. Her specialty is working with women and adolescents struggling with anger management, trauma, and substance abuse problems. She also enjoys assisting those facing multicultural or racial issues. She is dedicated to equipping clients with practical skills to better manage and reduce symptoms such as anger outbursts, anxiety, or restlessness. Ultimately, her goal is to help clients uncover the source of their distress so that they can begin to heal. See Colleen’s full bio.