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Back-to-school jitters may be higher than normal this year

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Posted at 5:23 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 08:08:14-04

Your kids might be nervous about going back into the classroom this year. After spending so much time at home over the summer and on E-learning before that, it's perfectly normal to feel anxious or afraid.

The thought of facing yet another school year with so much uncertainty can be overwhelming for kids.

"Anxiety is truly rooted in the fear of the unknown. So the more that you're able to roleplay, or test run things, it reduces how you feel," explains Danielle Blyden, a licensed therapist and counselor who works with kids.

She says those test runs, like meet the teacher day and orientation are especially important this year.

"Because it's like, I've done this before I've been here, I know where to go. I'm not nervous about getting lost on the first day of school. I know my teacher, and she has a great personality and a great attitude. So I'm not nervous about asking questions if I need help," says Blyden.

Dr. Valerie McClain is a psychologist specializing in the treatment of mental health issues. She says she's already seeing troubling signs ahead for kids.

"I think that the kids have so much on their plate to already be trying to deal with that this is a very big anxiety for them, and can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, feeling overwhelmed. So it's important to tamp that down," says Dr. McClain.

Deiah: How do you think that some of that anxiety will manifest itself for these kids the school year?

"If a student is anxious, it's gonna be hard to concentrate and it's gonna be hard to focus. There may be some incidents of panic attacks, or, you know, situations in which students become very fearful," Dr. McClain said.

Deiah: As parents what do we do? How do we help our kids?

"I think when they come home actually doing the old-fashioned thing of how was your day, you know, and having a time to sit as a family or one on one with the child just to kind of debrief. So that for example, they're not holding things in and become unnecessarily anxious," Dr. McClain responds.

Deiah: What is the best advice that you give to kids who are dealing with some of these stresses and anxiety?

"I think as a community, everyone is doing a better job of saying, Hey, you know, it's okay to talk about how we feel. It's okay to reach out for help. It's okay to talk with somebody who might not be in your family, maybe a therapist or a counselor. It's okay. We're all going through it," Blyden said.

Both women say it's important that as parents, we make sure we're not transferring any of our anxiety or stress to our children. Being flexible with our new normal routine can help kids understand how to just roll with it.