BACK TO SCHOOL: How To Give Kids With Anxiety, Depression The Tools To Succeed
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Back-to-school can be stressful not just for parents, but also for children.
Those stresses are amplified for kids who experience anxiety.
KSL TV spoke to an expert about what signs to watch for and ways parents can help their children make that transition.
“I think a lot of times, kids who struggle with anxiety or depression get anxious for the new school year,” said Intermountain Healthcare licensed psychologist Natalie Sergent.
She said children worry about all kinds of things, such as schedules, homework and teachers. They can even get anxiety about who they’re going to sit with at lunch time.
Sergent said there are a few indicators to watch out for.
“Anger, irritability,” she said. “That might be a sign that there’s something going on in the school setting that you’re not familiar with.”
For a child with anxiety or depression, now is a good time to start preparing them to head back to school.
Sergent suggests establishing a school routine that doesn’t just include getting to bed earlier. The schedule should also include getting up at the same time and establishing a breakfast routine.
“We get up, we get dressed, we eat breakfast,” she said. “We go about our day.”
Eating healthy meals together and exercising daily are other ways to help combat depression and anxiety.
Sergent also said to make going back to school fun.
“You can do things like trying to get your kid excited for school,” she said, “by going out and buying a new school outfit, or buying some new school supplies, or allowing them to pick their favorite snacks for their lunch box.”
There’s also another tool parents can put in their child’s tool belt: breathing and mindfulness exercises. They only take a few minutes each day, but they can help kids when they’re on their own.
“Breathing exercises or mindfulness and meditation exercises (are) things that they can do to kind of release some of that worry,” Sergent said.
Parents also have a major resource at their fingertips. If they notice their child struggling, they should reach out to their school’s counselor. Their help is free.
“Most schools have a counselor on site that can talk to the kid throughout the day,” Sergent said. “Maybe give them a break from the classroom if they need to.”
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