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How to recognize and create a plan to reduce stress this school year

Posted at 12:20 PM, Sep 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-01 12:19:59-04

A new school year is upon us and there are a variety of stress factors that plague both kids and parents alike. They include earlier wake up times, demanding homework, and stricter bedtimes. For some, the anxiety begins way before the first day of class, thanks to school supply shopping lists.

Ongoing stress can lead to anxiety and depression, so it’s good to know the warning signs. They include social pressure, fear of failure and tougher academics and more responsibilities. So how does a parent know when their child or children are experiencing above-average stress and/or anxiety? The students often need additional help to overcome their fears, and the signs are clear:

* Continually seeking reassurance or asking repeated, worried questions despite already receiving an answer. “What if my friends are not in my class? When will I see them? What if I don’t have anyone to sit with at lunch because I have no friends? Will I be okay?”

* What increased physical complaints should parents look for such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue in the absence of an actual illness.
* Is there a significant change in sleep patterns such as taking an hour to fall asleep when a child normally goes to sleep quickly or waking you up with worries during the night when a child typically sleeps well?
* Are you starting to notice your child avoiding school-related activities such as school tours, teacher meet-and-greets, or avoiding school itself once the year starts?

Tips for parents to help their child include:

  • Learning how to approach anxiety instead of avoiding it
  • Practicing school routines
  • Modeling behavior you’d like to see in your child
  • Ensure your child gets enough sleep
  • And knowing the signs in your child that let you know when to seek additional help

If you're a parent or guardian whose child is dealing with back-to-school stress and anxiety, or need help for yourself, visit the Birmingham Maple Clinic at