The Doctor Is In: Back to School Anxiety

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Content Sponsored and provided by Henry Ford Health System

Children are just weeks away from heading back to school and it's time to begin preparing for a smooth transition.

Deena Centofanti is joined by experts from Henry Ford Health System to get your little ones ready for back to school. 

A Pediatric Psychiatrist will help your family make the transition less stressful and disruptive for children who feel anxious or pressured.

Our Experts:  Dr. Kristine Roth, M.D., is a Pediatric Psychiatrist at Henry Ford Medical Center-Troy; Bethany Thayer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), is Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health System.

If children are anxious about starting school, starting a new school, wondering if they'll be able to handle their course-load, or if they'll fit in with their peers; there are steps that parents can take to help ease their child's fears.

Signs that a child may be experiencing more than typical back to school jitters include:

Changes in appetite

Having trouble sleeping


Excessive crying

Emotional outbursts and irritability

Refusal to go to school

Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

Talk About It.
One of the best ways to combat back to school anxiety is to talk to your child about what he or she may be feeling. This can be an opportunity to discuss important  subjects like how to handle bullies, peer pressure and other topics.

Let your child know that other children have the same thoughts and feelings.

Get Back to Routines
A few weeks before school starts have your child get back into the habit of going to bed earlier and getting up early.
Also, with your child, make lunch at night for the next day. This helps establish the routine of making school lunches.

Let's Shop
School shopping, picking out new schools clothes, backpacks and other supplies may be an easy way to help your child get excited about the new school year.
Include your child in preparing their study area. Having a comfortable, quiet place to do homework will help relieve some anxiousness.

Stress Caused by Fear of the Unknown
Ask about arranging a visit to the school and meeting the teacher before school starts.
Make a couple of drives back and forth from home to school.
Arrange some playdates. Help your child re-connect with old friends or make new ones before school starts.

Remind Your Child of Things They May Miss About School
Seeing friends they haven't seen for a while.
Going to the playground. 
Engaging in arts and crafts, science projects, sports or other activities they enjoy.

Parental Availability, Support and Reassurance
The first few days of school, try to arrange your hours so that you are able to drop your child off at school and are home when school gets out.
Stay-at-home parents, try to focus more on your child, helping him to feel more secure about his connection to you and home.

Starting now, parents should begin gradually having their child reestablish some of their school year routines so that when school starts, your child will have already adjusted to going to bed earlier, being more active and eating healthier.

From the breakfast nook to the lunchbox to the dinner table, research shows that eating a healthy diet is key to a child's development, school performance, and overall health.

A tip for parents, while picking up those notepads, pens and pencils for school, don't forget to also stock the kitchen and pantry with nutritious foods to help fuel your child's mind and body and improve their ability to learn.

It's a good idea to let your child help with the grocery shopping and pick some of the foods which they can use to prepare their own healthy breakfasts and snacks.

View more health, nutrition and fitness tips for the entire family at:

For Behavioral Health Services, call 1-800-422-1183 or go to: Henry Ford Behavioral Health Services.