7 tips for parents to manage back to school anxiety


School Anxiety tips for parentsChild anxiety expert, Jeremy Pettit, shares some tips for parents whose children may be exhibiting signs of back to school anxiety.

  1. Attend open house and orientation activities before the start of school so children can see their classroom and meet teachers.
  2. Establish a routine and stick to it. There are many changes happening at the start of school. Having a predictable routine at home can be calming.
  3. Discuss the positive aspects of going back to school, such as seeing friends again or starting fun extracurricular activities in school such as sports or clubs.
  4. Provide reassurance but not excessive reassurance – once or twice is enough.
  5. If at all possible, do not let children avoid school by staying at home. This tends to make things worse rather than improve the situation.
  6. Show empathy. Parents can discuss with their kids their own experiences with anxiety and what they have found to be helpful. Parents also can help children identify their own strategies for coping with anxiety.
  7. Praise children when they face their fears and make efforts to cope with anxiety.

In most cases, the anxiety will fade away over the first few days of school. However, sometimes it can begin to interfere with daily functioning – missing school, performance in class suffers, parents miss work to pick up the child from school early, and frequent arguments within the family. If the anxiety persists, it may be time to seek help.

The Child Anxiety and Phobia program at FIU’s Center for Children and Families (CCF) provides comprehensive diagnostic assessments and state-of-the-art treatments for children and adolescents (6-17 years old) who are experiencing excessive fear and anxiety related problems. Services – in English and Spanish – are also available for children and adolescents who are experiencing depression. As a CCF researcher, Pettit is currently working on a new clinical trial of a brief computer-based treatment for children with mild to moderate levels of anxiety.

For information, visit capp.fiu.edu or call 305-348-1937.