How to help your child fight back to school jitters

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — School is back in session! With the first few days behind them, younger kids may now be trading that initial excitement for back-to-school jitters.

Between a new year, a new teacher, and maybe even a new school, St. Joseph’s Health Psychologist Dr. Monique Winnett says it’s normal for kids to have mixed emotions adjusting to all the changes.

“It’s common in a lot of these things for us to have a little honeymoon period where things seem exciting and new, and then once we start to settle into more routine, it can start to feel a little bit more challenging,” said Winnett.

She says one of the first signs of anxiety is irritability. Kids may say they’re tired, they don’t feel well, or they simply don’t want to go to school.

However, keeping them home can make it harder for them to adjust.

“When we’re feeling nervous or anxious our gut instinct is to avoid that situation, but what that does is it teaches us that, that situation is scary and we’re not capable of managing it.”

Dr. Monique Winnett

Instead, she suggests empowering your kids to go to school and let them know they can handle it.

Her advice?

Have conversations about how they feel and make sure they’re connected to their teacher.

If you have a young child, there are books you can read to them about going back to school.

If they have older siblings, she suggests having them talk about what school is like for them and how they’ve overcome being nervous.

Above all, keep the line of communication open and focus on the positives.

Figure out who your child is most excited to see or what they’re most looking forward to and really talk that up a lot so they’re more focused on that as opposed to things that they’re anxious about.

Dr. Monique Winnett

If your kid is really struggling, Dr. Winnett suggests talking to their teacher and guidance counselor to come up with a plan. If that doesn’t seem to work, it may be time to involve a professional.

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