Local Doctor Suggests Tips for Minimizing Back to School Anxiety

Routine Changes Can Lead to Anxiety in Children

DAYTON, Ohio (Aug. 8, 2012) – As summer winds down and kids prepare for another school year, it’s common for them to get back-to-school jitters; however, some children experience anxiety that is much more serious, says Nicholas Davis, MD, a primary care physician at Centerville Family Medicine, part of Premier HealthNet.  

While different kids have different reasons for experiencing anxiety, Dr. Davis says that it is often a change in routine that’s the cause. 

“A lot of kids are very used to routines, and they get attached to them,” said Dr. Davis. “Transitioning from being home all day to going to school all day or moving to a new school are big changes in routine that can sometimes result in anxiety.”

Because children cannot always verbalize feelings of anxiety, Dr. Davis recommends watching for outward signs or sudden changes in behavior when determining whether a child is dealing with basic nerves or serious anxiety. Red flags that a child is dealing with something more serious than simple back-to-school anxiety include:

  • Acting out or reverting behavior
  • Potty training issues
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • Changes in personality
  • Severe behavioral problems
  • Withdrawal

According to Dr. Davis, parents can play a key role in reducing back to school anxiety. He first recommends that parents help get their children excited about going back to school. Rather than sharing negative thoughts such as which subjects or teachers they dislike, which children can internalize, he suggests focusing on the positive.

“During the weeks leading up to school, talk about the exciting new things, like new classes, new projects or new levels of independence. Parents getting more involved will increase a child’s excitement,” said Dr. Davis.

Establishing a back to school schedule prior to the school year is also important, and Dr. Davis suggests that kids start going to bed earlier and waking up earlier a week or two before the school year starts to help make the transition to a new routine much smoother.

For children that are changing schools, Dr. Davis says that connecting with other kids in the neighborhood that attend the same school can reduce anxiousness because it gives them a familiar face to see in the hallways or on the bus. He also advises getting the children familiar with the new school building before the first day.

“Show them where their classroom is and where the bathrooms are. That way, on the first day of school, they aren’t facing a big, brand new building and don’t know where they are going,” Dr. Davis said.

If concerns about back to school anxiety do arise, parents are encouraged to contact their primary care physician. To learn more about back to school anxiety or find a Premier HealthNet primary care physician near you, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

Contact Us

Discover more about Premier Health and join us in building healthier communities in Southwest Ohio. Learn more about working at Premier Health, becoming a volunteer, and making a gift to support our mission.