10 Ways To Help Your Child With Back-to-School Anxiety


Are you a parent dreading the start of the new school year due to your child’s back-to-school anxiety? You’re not alone. According to an article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, back-to-school anxiety can manifest in various ways, including tantrums during separation, stomachaches, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping alone. At Tomasik Family Dental, we understand families’ challenges during this time. We’ve compiled a list of ten practical ways to help your child conquer their back-to-school anxiety, ensuring a smoother transition and a healthier smile for the whole family.

What is back-to-school anxiety?

Back-to-school anxiety refers to the stress and worry children may experience as they approach the start of a new school year. Child Mind Institute says it is a common issue affecting many children.

Here are some reasons children may experience school anxiety.

  • Desire to Fit in Socially: Children often worry about fitting in, making friends, and being accepted by their peers. The fear of not belonging or being left out can contribute to anxiety.
  • Big Life Changes: Significant life changes, such as moving to a new city, divorce, or losing a loved one, can trigger anxiety in children. These changes disrupt their stability and familiarity, making them apprehensive about the new school year.
  • Starting a New School: Transitions to a new school, transitioning from elementary to middle school, or changing schools can be overwhelming. The unfamiliar environment, new teachers, and different academic expectations can cause anxiety.
  • Athletic or Academic Pressure: Some children feel anxious about meeting high academic or athletic expectations. The fear of failure, performance anxiety, or the pressure to excel can lead to back-to-school anxiety.
  • Fears of Bullying: The fear of bullying or previous experiences can contribute to school anxiety. Children may worry about encountering bullies, feeling unsafe, or being subjected to social exclusion.

It’s important to remember that every child is unique, and the causes of back-to-school anxiety may vary from one individual to another. By understanding these potential triggers, parents and caregivers can better support their children during this challenging time.

Is my child experiencing back-to-school anxiety?

As parents, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of back-to-school anxiety in our children, as it allows us to provide the necessary support and intervention. According to an insightful article from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, awareness of these signs can help us effectively address our child’s emotional well-being.

Here are some key indicators that your child may be experiencing back-to-school anxiety.

  • Frequent complaints of physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping or experiencing nightmares related to school
  • Increased clinginess and reluctance to separate from parents or caregivers
  • Expressing worries or fears about school, such as academic performance, making friends, or being bullied
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Irritability, moodiness, or sudden emotional outbursts
  • Withdrawing from activities they used to enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating or exhibiting a decline in academic performance
  • Displaying avoidance behaviors, such as skipping school or refusing to participate in school-related activities

Tips to Relieve Your Child’s Back-to-School Anxiety

Implementing a few helpful strategies can make a significant difference when relieving your child’s back-to-school anxiety. Consider these practical tips from Johns Hopkins Medicine and other experts to ease your child’s transition and promote a positive school experience.

1. Resume school routines a week or two before school.

Gradually reintroduce regular school routines, such as consistent bedtimes and waking up times, to help your child adjust smoothly to the upcoming schedule.

2. Ensure your child has sufficient sleep.

When it comes to relieving your child’s back-to-school anxiety, ensuring they get an adequate amount of sleep is crucial. School-aged children typically need nine to 12 hours of sleep per night for optimal well-being and cognitive functioning.

Establishing consistent bedtimes and wake-up times can help your child meet their sleep requirements and reduce anxiety levels, allowing them to feel refreshed and ready for the school day ahead. Creating a soothing bedtime routine and providing a comfortable sleep environment contribute to a good night’s rest. Prioritizing their sleep helps alleviate back-to-school anxiety and supports their overall physical and mental health.

3. Be mindful of your child’s diet.

Being mindful of potential triggers like food allergies, excessive sugars, and food colorings is essential to mitigating anxiety levels in children. Promoting a balanced and nourishing diet that supports their overall well-being is crucial. Additionally, incorporating brain-boosting foods can enhance academic performance.

According to Healthline, some top brain foods for studying include:

  • Fatty fish like salmon—they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that support brain health.
  • Blueberries—they are packed with antioxidants and are beneficial for memory and cognition.
  • Turmeric—it’s known for its anti-inflammatory properties that can enhance brain function.
  • Broccoli—it is a nutrient-dense vegetable containing antioxidants and compounds beneficial for brain health.
  • Pumpkin seeds—they are high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper, contributing to brain function.

Regarding school lunch and snack ideas, Tomasik Family Dental provides valuable insights on options that kids will enjoy eating. Some of these ideas include:

  • Mini whole-grain sandwiches with lean protein (e.g., turkey or chicken) and vegetables
  • Fresh fruit slices or fruit kebabs for a refreshing and nutritious snack
  • Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola or mixed berries
  • Veggie sticks (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers) with hummus for dipping
  • Homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
  • Whole-grain crackers with cheese or nut butter

4. Arrange playdates.

Facilitate social connections by organizing playdates with familiar peers before school begins. This can help your child feel more comfortable and establish a support system.

5. Listen and validate.

Take your child’s concerns and worries seriously. Listen actively, validate their emotions, and show confidence in their abilities. Reassurance and understanding can alleviate anxiety.

6. Frame questions positively.

Instead of asking anxiety-inducing questions like “Are you worried about math this year?”, reframe inquiries to focus on curiosity and knowledge, such as “What exciting topics do you expect to learn in math this year?”

7. Do test runs.

Familiarize your child with the school environment by doing test runs. Visit the school, walk the halls together, and explore classrooms. This can help them feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety.

8. Give specific praise.

Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s successes before and after school starts. Specific praise for their efforts and achievements boosts their confidence and reinforces positive experiences.

9. Make the first day easier.

Plan ahead to make the first day of school less daunting. Prepare necessary supplies, lay out clothes, and discuss the day’s schedule, helping your child feel more organized and prepared.

10. Stay in touch with teachers.

Regularly check in with your child’s teacher(s) to stay informed about their progress and well-being. Open communication ensures you can address any concerns promptly and work collaboratively for the betterment of your child’s success.

Prioritize your child’s oral health and schedule a back-to-school dental cleaning today.

Supporting your child’s back-to-school transition and overall well-being is crucial. Implementing the tips in this article can help alleviate their anxiety and ensure a positive school experience. Don’t forget to prioritize your child’s oral health as well. Schedule a dental cleaning today at Tomasik Family Dental near Lakeway, Texas. Our affordable dental membership plans make quality dental care accessible to all. Invest in your child’s long-term oral health and book an appointment today.