- By Deb Balzer
Back to School: Separation Anxiety, Fears and Stress
Getting ready for a new school year can be exciting for children, parents and caregivers. It may also be a major cause of anxiety or stress. Whether kids are heading off to elementary school, high school or college, leaving the safety and familiarity of home can prompt feelings of fear. Mayo Clinic Children's Center psychologist Dr. Stephen Whiteside says if back-to-school anxiety or separation anxiety become overwhelming and disruptive, taking steps to reduce those fears is important. "Some kids are more anxious than others, and transitions like going back to school can be more difficult for them," says Dr. Whiteside. "Talking to them and preparing them ahead of time by doing things such as visiting the schools and meeting teachers can be beneficial."
Dr. Whiteside offers additional tips that can help:
- Tour school ahead of time – classrooms, lockers, cafeteria, gymnasium
- Be social – get in touch with school peers
- Practice academic work
- Develop a routine – wake up early to be ready on time
- Spend time apart so kids and parents/caregivers can get used to being separated
If anxiety becomes severe, talk to your health care provider to be sure the anxiety is not caused by an underlying issue, such as a learning disability.
For parents who have separation anxiety from sending their child off to college, Dr. Whiteside recommends getting support by talking to others who have already gone through that transition.
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