Back-to-school time can trigger anxiety and stress in some children but there are steps parents and caregivers can take to help.
"The start of the school year can be a really positive time, full of new opportunities for young people, but it can also be overwhelming for some," Dr. Connie Coniglio, of BC Mental Health & Addiction Services, said in a press release.
"If your child isn't looking forward to school, they may be experiencing stress or anxiety. While some children and youth thrive on the backto-school excitement, others may need a calming, reassuring environment to support them during this transition."
Anxiety - feeling worried, nervous, fearful - is normal from time to time in adults and children.
It's a problem if your child seems to be anxious often when other children of the same age are typically not; it negatively affects their functioning and/or your family life; and if it doesn't get better over time.
Signs and symptoms to watch for:
Attempts to remain at home or with caregiver
Refusal to attend school on certain days (field trips)
Refusal to eat in public Refusal to use public bathrooms
Extreme shyness, avoiding social situations or events
Tantrums, crying, screaming Constant worrying
Physical complaints with no medical explanation (stomach aches, headaches, difficulty catching breath)
Seeking comfort or reassurance
Tips for parents and caregivers:
Provide regular routines - morning, school, homework, bedtime
Provide clear expectations, limits and consequences
Plan for transitions - getting to school, returning to school after breaks
Help your child identify his or her feelings - nervous, intimidated, shy
Pay attention to your child's feelings
Ask your child if they have ideas or solutions for a particular concern
Show yourself identifying your own feelings, problem solving and being brave Remain calm when your child is anxious
Hold realistic expectations that are right for the child's age
Praise and reward even their small accomplishments
Some resources that support mental health and well-being:
MindShift - An interactive app designed to help youth learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help them take charge of their anxiety. Available free to download from the iTunes app store or Google Play.
mindcheck.ca - Information, resources and interactive quizzes designed specifically for youth and young adults to help them identify and understand mental distress they may be experiencing, including anxiety and depression, and link them to sources of help.
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre (http://keltymentalhealth.ca) - Information and resources on mental health and substance use for children, youth and families, or call 604-875-2084 to speak to a parent or youth support person with experience with mental health challenges.
AnxietyBC (www.anxietybc.com) - Information on how anxiety can express itself and effective strategies to begin to address anxiety. AnxietyBC also has a site specifically for youth and young adults at http://youth.anxietybc.com
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