K32 — August 2010 — New School Anxiety
Intro: Back-to-school time. Some kids look forward to it; others dread it. A little anxiety is normal, but sometimes worries can get out of control. That can be especially true for kids who are starting a new school. A doctor at Mayo Clinic has some tips on how to help your kids manage back-to-school stress and thoughts about when you should seek professional help.
"Today we're going to be talking about stress management."
Welcome to sixth-grade prep. A summer program that teaches survival skills for kids starting middle school.
Teacher Sam Ol says kids worry about a lot of things in anticipation of that first day of a new school.
"The teachers, the lockers, just about everything."
Lockers. A huge source of anxiety.
"Because you only have three minutes to open your locker and get everything."
"Take a deep breath."
But these kids will likely be less worried when that first bell rings because they'll be prepared. They're exposed to the things that frighten them, which is exactly what doctors at mayo clinic say lessens anxiety.
"Our approach to anxiety is called exposure therapy. Basically that can be boiled down to, if you're afraid of something that's not dangerous, you need to practice doing that over and over until you learn through your own experience that it's not as frightening as you thought it was."
Dr. Stephen Whiteside says if your child is anxious, find out what he or she is afraid of. Then gradually expose them to it. If it's making new friends, set up some time for your child to meet and hang out with some kids that will be in the same class. If it's new teachers, call the school and arrange a meeting. If it's the lockers, go and practice opening them.
"That's how you do it."
But if these things don't help or if your child's anxiety is severe or causing physical symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Stress balls are a good way to deal with anxiety. The class makes them so when pressure rises they can squeeze the tension away. Stress balls are not a treatment, but they can help kids feel more confident about handling worries. And now that these kids are armed with information, they're ready for a less stressful start to a new school and a new year.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
For more information about kids and anxiety, visit our website at…
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