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While going back to school can be an exciting time for many children and teenagers, that excitement may oftentimes be accompanied by stress and anxiety. Whether it is beginning at a new school, worrying about taking exams, questioning how to make friends, adjusting to a new schedule, or dwelling on how to succeed in general, there are various stressors that may arise with the beginning of the back-to-school season. Feelings of anxiety and stress are natural reactions to any novel period in life, including back-to-school, and these feelings typically decrease or fade with the progression of the school year. However, for some adolescents, this anxiety may continue to persist and begin to interfere with schoolwork, socialization, sleep, or other important parts of daily life. If you notice these signs in your child or teenager, here are some proactive tips to help them during their transition back to school:

  1. Provide your child or teenager with a safe space to express their concerns, worries, or fears. Listen to them with empathy and attempt to refrain from dismissing their fears. Be sure to validate their feelings and offer suggestions to help handle any situations they may be encountering. 
  2. Help your child or teenager redirect their negative thinking to the positive aspects of school. Take the time to discuss the parts of school that they find fun or interesting, and focus on reminding them of the enjoyable aspects of school, such as their friends, lunch breaks, field trips, sports, etc. 
  3. Assist your child or teenager in developing a consistent and effective routine that will allow them to get adequate sleep and nutrition, while still managing to complete their assignments on time. This can be done by making schedules, setting designated times for screen time, and going to bed at a consistent time every night. 
  4. Create plans with your child or teenager for how they can deal with certain scenarios or situations that they may find particularly anxiety inducing. This can be done by discussing ahead of time how they may go about the situation, coming up with coping methods to reduce their anxiety during the situation, and even rehearsing certain situations before they occur. 
  5. Provide your child or teenager with frequent check-ins in order to allow them to have the opportunities to share anything that may have made them anxious that week or anything that may be causing them distress.

At times, professional guidance may be necessary to help equip your child or teenager with effective coping skills and provide them with treatment to relieve their anxiety symptoms. If you notice that your child or teenager continues to struggle with anxiety in a manner that is negatively affecting their lives or mental health, be sure to seek additional help from a mental health professional. 

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