Kids and back-to-school stress

Posted at 3:58 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 18:00:36-04

It's a normal part of a life felt by everyone regardless of age, but stress may look different in children, especially because of school this year.

"Definitely going to feel a lot more intense," said Jody Baumstein, a licensed therapist with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life.

Baumstein says signs of school-related stress in children can include an attempt to avoid school or procrastinate. Some may have physical complaints, like a stomachache or headache with no known medical cause, but tend to come near school time.

There can also be distinct changes in mood or behavior, some may be irritable, others may cry or you may see a difference in eating or sleeping patterns. Baumstein says if you see these signs, get to the root of the stress by asking open-ended questions.

"Instead of saying something like, 'Is school making you anxious? or stressed?' asking them, 'how do you feel about school or how are you feeling about it and really giving them a chance to guide the conversation," says Baumstein.

Then you can work with your child on problem-solving, helping them to think critically about how to fix the situation. Once they're calm, it's a good time to teach coping skills.

"It's really just about doing things that make them feel better so for instance it might be turning on some music and dancing or getting outside and running around and playing a game together," says Baumstein. "It doesn't have to be serious."

It's also important to have your child keep up with healthy habits, getting enough sleep, eating right, staying hydrating and keeping active can also ease stress.