On Your Mind: 7 tips for handling anxiety about school

on your mind

My son is going to a new school this year and he is having a lot of anxiety about the new environment. It’s still early in the school year but he hasn’t found new friends yet and I see him withdrawing more and more. What can I do to help him through this tough move?

It’s completely understandable that your son’s worries have got you worried, too. Here are 7 tips that can help you and your son deal with this new school setting in a way that should calm his fears and keep anxiety at bay.

1. Call it normal. Acknowledge the fact that anxiety about a new school is normal. In fact, it would be highly unusual for a kid going into a new school to not feel some level of anxiety. Assure him that other “new kids” all over the country are dealing with some of these exact same feelings.

2. Get specifics about what worries him. You can’t deal with what you don’t know about, so try to get as many specific details as possible about what is causing his anxiety and worry.

3. Help him find people he is comfortable with. I can almost guarantee that at least one person at the new school is friendly. Help him figure out how to find that person.

4. Encourage him to join a group. Depending on your son’s age, most schools have groups around specific interests (Quiz bowl, sports, robotics, chess club, etc.) This is a great way for kids to “find their people” — other students who he is most likely to have things in common with.

5. Play your role. New situations can be scary so practice the scenario of meeting new people at home, especially if your child is very young and tends to “freeze up” when meeting new people. Role-play with your son in a pretend “getting to know you” situation so that he knows what to say when the opportunity presents itself.

6. Talk about the day. Ask him to tell you about what happened at school each day so he can fill you in on any new developments that might be worrying him.

7. Ask him what he DOES like. It can’t be all bad, right? Ask him to think of at least one thing he likes about the new school and build on that so he can focus on the positive things in this new situation.

If you’ve tried all these tips for a period of time and still have some serious concerns about your son’s anxiety, I’d encourage you to see a counselor who can help sort out these feelings. The therapists at Ozark Guidance are always happy to help. Good luck with the new school year.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.