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How to ease back-to-school anxiety

Posted at 9:29 AM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 18:42:27-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The start of the school year can bring up some mixed emotions: excitement and anxiety.

Four-year-old Vivienne Villa is ready to make new friends and show off some of her back-to-school gear when she starts kindergarten next week. Her mom, Priya, knows the big jump from preschool to kindergarten can be tough on a kid.

"She's been home with me the last two years and it's just been us during the day, so it'll be a big transition," Villa said.

Increased work load, longer days, and more time away from mom and dad can add on stress for children. When Villa dropped her son off at Kindergarten a few years ago, she learned that confidence can be contagious.

"What really worked is I wouldn't linger when I said goodbye. I said have a great day, I can't wait for you to tell me about it, and then I would leave," Villa added.

Dr. Beth Creel, the Director of the Behavioral Health Department at the Children's Heart Center, says Priya is right. Kids can pick up on our emotions, so it's a good idea to try to keep a level head.

Dr. Creel says children can get anxious ahead of the school year because of the uncertainty and lack of control. Creating an eating and sleeping schedule and sticking to it ahead of the school year can help them feel more prepared for a busy school year.

To ease separation anxiety, Dr. Creel suggests sneaking a family picture or a sweet note into your child's backpack or lunch box.

"Something to show that after an eight hour day, a five hour day, a four hour day, there is still that connection and mommy and daddy aren't going anywhere," Dr. Creel said.

When children get home, open communication is crucial, but sometimes what your child doesn't say is more telling.

"Sometimes it's a red flag. Why don't they want to talk about that? That's something that I think parents have to also keep in mind. Pay attention to the silence as well," Dr. Creel said.

Homework can be a daunting task for the start of the school year. If a child is overwhelmed by their school work Dr. Creel suggests creating a work space for the individual child that is organized and away from distractions.

If back-to-school shopping is in the budget, Dr. Creel says buying something new that your child can give an uneasy child an extra confidence boost.