Ask The Pediatrician: Back To School Anxiety

After weeks of summer fun, a less rigid schedule and spending time with family and friends, the idea of going back to school can literally make some kids sick. In this month's Ask The Pediatrician report, find out how to avoid back-to-school anxiety.

Marissa Segoriano enjoys reading to her little sisters, but one story (about school) hits close to home for six-year-old Mariah. Last year, she was nervous about going to kindergarten.

Mariah's mom, Rebecca Segoriano, said, "I stayed there for a few just so she could get settled. It was more her that wouldn't let me go."

Dr. Michelle Mogenson says adjusting to new schools, schedules and new expectations can lead to anxiety.

"A lot of kids can express these fears and anxieties with headaches, and tummy aches and not wanting to go and waking up feeling sick in the morning, " she said. "Things you can look for is kids who have really no symptoms during the summer but once it gets closer to school, they start having headaches - tummy aches."

One thing you can do to ease your child's fear or anxiety is give them a tour of the school or their classroom. Dr. Mogenson says even a visit to the school playground can do younger children some good.

"Are you excited to go to first grade?" Dr. Mogenson asked Mariah.

Talking about school, what they can expect - even a practice walk to school can help. But the best thing parents can do is be positive.

Dr. Mogenson tells us, "If you, as a parent, express negative thoughts or behaviors about school or homework or teachers or anybody, your kids internalize that as well."

Mom says staying positive worked for her girls. As for the anxiety?

"It didn't last long," said Rebecca. "She was so anxious to go back to school; meet her friends."

A sign her girls are growing up. And are ready for school.

Dr. Mogenson says the worst thing parents can do is let their kids stay home. If they get in the habit of staying home, it only makes it harder for them to return to school.

About the Author...
Serese Cole
Serese is no stranger to the Midwest. She was born and raised in Kansas City and after years of moving from state to state - has called Nebraska home the last decade.

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