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Parents Can Ease Back-to-School Stress
Date:8/25/2011

If you have younger children, pretend to be the teacher and talk about school rules.

Parents need to manage their own anxiety as well. "Parents need to be calm and supportive. Their confidence is key for children -- especially those who tend to be worriers," said Kodman-Jones. "Children look to their parents for stability and take that anxiety very personally."

Parents should also realize they are not alone. Teachers are there to help ease the transition. "I want school, and my classroom especially, to be a 'safe place,'" said Deborah Gsell, who teaches fourth grade in Oak Ridge, N.C.

"As we get to know our students in the first few days and weeks and greet each child each day, it becomes almost second nature to be able to determine who is on the right track for the day and who might have an issue," said Gsell.

A child's fears may not disappear overnight, said Feinberg, who worked in upstate New York schools as a school psychologist for 32 years. "There is no one-shot deal in any aspect of life. Patterns take time to establish and be broken down," he said.

Overall, back-to-school school anxiety should fade away after the first month, said Kodman-Jones. However, children who show certain symptoms, such as trouble sleeping or recurrent stomach aches, may need some extra help adjusting from their teacher or a school counselor, she said. Other signs of trouble include bad dreams, loss of appetite or unusually stubborn or demanding behavior, she said.

Teens switching high schools or packing for college can also suffer from anxiety. "Will I fit in?" or "Are my clothes right?" are typical concerns, but continued homesickness or a sudden inability to focus could signal a more serious problem.

"Parents can encourage these older adolescents, letting them know how they as parents overcame their homesickness or inability to concentrate and letting them know they have faith in the first-year student's ability to do well in
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