Des Moines Mom is committed to creating a safe space for ongoing conversations about mental health.
It’s almost time for kids to go back to school. Moms may be counting down the days, but it’s not uncommon for kids to have some anxiety about going back to school. We talk to Kim Roberts, ARNP, at UnityPoint Health – Blank Children’s Psychiatry, about ways to manage these emotions and when it may be time to seek additional help.
Kim Roberts, ARNP, works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at UnityPoint Health – Blank Children’s Psychiatry. She has worked in pediatric behavioral health for 30 years, specializing in psychiatry with a focus on child-adolescent psychiatry.
What are signs or symptoms parents and caregivers should look for in their child for anxiety?
Anxiety is normal during times of transition. 10 to 20 percent of children have anxiety at some point during childhood. Overall, changes in mood can be temporary. You may notice your child is more irritable, having more tantrums or meltdowns, or generally more emotional.
Headaches and stomach aches before going to school are other common symptoms kids may have when it’s time to go to school. Encourage kids to push through so you don’t create bad habits of missing school.
How can you help your child cope?
It is important for parents to keep their emotions in control when they are addressing anxiety in their kids. Remind kids that it’s OK to have some worries. Have informal conversations about going back to school. Ask kids what they are looking forward to or who will be in their class. Help them focus on positive things. You can also share your own positive experiences as a student.
Coping strategies like taking deep breaths or grounding strategies are also good things to practice with your child if he is feeling anxious.
When should you seek additional help?
If anxiety is extreme and lasts longer than a few weeks, it’s a good idea to contact your primary care provider.
It’s important to understand why your child is having anxiety about going to school. If it persists, ask the teacher if there are things happening in the classroom that may be contributing to the anxiety.
Watch more of our conversation with Kim Roberts, ARNP, about Managing Back to School Anxiety.
Thank you for making time to help normalize the conversation about mental health. In this ongoing monthly series, we will be talking about mental health for ourselves, our kids, our spouses, and our families.
See more of our conversations about Mental Health.