• By Jason Howland

Mayo Clinic Minute: Back to school and separation anxiety

August 23, 2021

Kids have been at home for a long time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some students might not be looking forward to the first day of school this year, in part because of separation anxiety.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (1:07) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

By the time the first school bell rings, some kids might have a harder time leaving home.

"Separation anxiety is not an uncommon problem to have and to be anticipating as we come into the new school year," says Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic family physician.

That's especially true for children attending a new school or starting school for the first time.

"I think one of our best tools for our kids is to be prepared and have open conversations about those things. And there's lots of ways that we can do that as parents: either showing them pictures of their new school, explaining to them what that new routine will be like, or see if that school or day care setting has opportunities for an open house or some type of safe gathering to be able to see that environment," says Dr. Ardon.

And if your child has a tummy ache and doesn't want to go to school?

"I always tell parents that they know their kids best. So if something just doesn't feel right, you listen to your gut. If there's something such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, that's a bit different than saying my tummy just feels a little bit off or it's just bothering me a little bit. So always listen to your own self in terms of your kids and how you feel about the situation," says Dr. Ardon. "But past that, if there aren't any acute symptoms, feel free to talk to your kid a little bit more about what else is going on in their life and then reach out to your doctor to see if further investigation is necessary."


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