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STLMoms: Anxiety in Kids

Kids can get stressed, too, but it isn’t always easy to tell what is bothering them because they hide symptoms or explain them in vague ways. As the school year gears up, it’s pretty normal for kids to experience anything from a few butterflies and nervousness to anxiety. Try and learn how to identify stress in your kids, whether they’re in the first, fifth or 10th grade, and help them manage it.

Anxiety is caused by the of the unknown, so often times new experiences with the start of school can cause anxiety in kids

  • New environment
  • New schedules
  • New friends
  • New teachers
  • New amounts of expectations and work
  • Extended time away from parents

Cassie Wichlenski, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, SSM Health DePaul Hospital says children are often not familiar with the word stress and its meaning, they may express feelings of distress through other words such as “worried,” “confused,” “annoyed” and “angry.” When kids express anxiety about going back to school — a new teacher, increases in homework, making a team, a friend crisis — do listen seriously.

Children thrive on routine and structure, this is what provides the feeling of comfort and familiarity, things we can do as caregivers to provide the feeling of security

Communicate:  Check in each day, ask specific questions about their new routine, friends and teachers, ask how they feel about it.

Provide structure in the home with daily family meals

Provide a token that your child can keep in his/her pocket that can provide comfort and reminds them of something familiar, such as a picture of a pet, special coin.

Rather than dismissing these fears (for example: Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!), listening and acknowledging their feelings will help them feel secure. You can bolster kids confidence by helping them strategize about how to handle things they’re concerned about.

Be observant of your child’s behavior and if the symptoms of anxiety last more than one month, reach out to your child’s school counselor or school social worker as they are great resources for parents.

Behaviors to be aware of include:  changes in appetite, sleep, isolation, physical complains such as stomachaches, irritability, decline in energy or interests.

If this happens and you are concerned about you child, you can schedule an evaluation to make sure nothing serious needs to addressed with the help of a professional. You can call 314-344-6700 or 1-800-426-2083 to schedule an evaluation.