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August 4, 2015

At any age, starting something new can lead to stress and anxiety, and going back to school is no exception. Sending a teen back to junior high or high school is a much different process than when you sent your younger child off to elementary school. Now that your child is older, their fears have shifted from separation anxiety to intimidating jam-packed schedules, pressure from peers, relationships and a host of other challenges. Social anxiety in teens can increase due to their experiences at school. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips on how to reduce the anxiety that may accompany your teen’s return to school.

Begin School Routines in the Summer

Over the summer, both parents and teens become accustomed to a more relaxed lifestyle, and the idea of reverting back to a structured schedule can seem daunting. Taking small steps in the weeks before school starts to reduce habits formed over the break may help your teen’s overall transition back to school.

  • Begin setting sit-down meal times to coincide with breakfast, lunch and dinner school schedules.
  • As summer winds down, help your teen to reprogram their sleep schedule with more time at home, turning in earlier and beginning a morning routine.
  • Work with your teen to simplify living space by organizing his/her bedroom and study space in the weeks before school begins.

Communication is Key

When getting back into your family’s routine, consider organizing a special time and place where your teen feels comfortable expressing their emotions and discussing what they may be struggling with at school (nightly family dinner is a great option). At first, the conversations may feel slightly awkward but if you regularly make this a priority throughout the year it can help build trust and create an emotionally safe process for he/she to communicate challenges, concerns and fears.

Set a Good Example

If your teen is having a difficult time communicating their worries, it may be best to talk about what going back to school means for the entire family. Consider working together to create a to-do list and calendar for each family member to show how the return to school affects the entire household. Armed with this knowledge, your teen may grow more attentive to how each family member deals with the stress of a major life change and mimic positive coping tactics.

Let Your Child They’re not Alone

Social anxiety in teens is much more common because as children grow they develop a greater need to be accepted by those around them. Socially, teens may fear:

  • not fitting in with classmates
  • not having the right clothes or concerns about appearance
  • social isolation
  • being bullied (at school or online)

Emphasize to your teen that these fears are completely normal and other teens are worried about the same things. Find a way to convey to your teen that they are not alone, and encourage and empower them to make others feel included. Doing so allows your teen to helps build empathy and may also ease some of their anxiety.

The stress and anxiety that comes with going back to school provides the perfect opportunity to address issues as a parent and instill lifelong habits that will be beneficial at any stage in your teen’s development. If you struggle year after year to calm your anxious teen, it may be time to seek assistance and learn how to help your teen cope with the ongoing anxiety. At Pacific Quest, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us at any time at 808-937-5806 or email our Admissions Team at: admissions@pacificquest.org

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