Beating back-to-school anxiety from tot to teen

Back-to-school jitters start at an early age.

The lazy days of summer are ending and it's time to hit the books. While going back to school is exciting, it can be equally as nerve-racking for students of any age.

“I think a lot of kids having anxiety about going to school or back to school,” Doctor Elizabeth Meade, Chief of Pediatrics at Swedish Hospital said.

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Meade says back-to-school jitters start at an early age.

“For preschoolers, it's typically that they're anxious about being separated from parents,” Meade said.

To help your smallest students prepare, call a babysitter and head out, so your child gets used to being without mom and dad for a bit.

When it's time for elementary school, most kids are excited, but there is also anxiety about changing routines and increased structure in the classroom.

“So, the more that you can visit the school ahead of time meet the teacher maybe meet some other kids are going to be there that is super helpful for that age,” Meade said.

Middle school is the start of serious social anxiety for most kids. Peer groups suddenly become more important making it essential to talk about cyber bullying and social media.

“I think you absolutely must be honest with your kids, though, and say to those ages of kids, 'If you want to have a Facebook or an Instagram account, or Snapchat account that's OK, but you need to know that I'm going to be looking at it from time to time,'” Meade said.

It's crucial to keep your kids talking to you all the way through middle school helping address their fears of social anxiety, setting them up for success in high school.

For many students, high school means high anxiety. Teens have to cope with social anxiety, plus the added stress surrounding grades and sports.

“High schoolers can really take a lot of charge of their own schedules and be very independent and responsible, but I think having some guidance and parents is helpful,” Meade said.

All age groups have one thing in common: losing touch with friends over summer break. That can also add to back to school anxiety

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The solution? Throw a party.

“Just start having some get-togethers before the school year starts and think it's useful for kids to feel like they have a friendly face in the crowd, and somebody they know they can go up and talk to when they get to school,” Meade said.

By the time your tot is a teen, back-to-school anxiety will manifest in many forms.

Meade says it's most important to keep kids talking and if anxiety is affecting their daily activities, it's time to go and talk to your pediatrician.