Chalfin said preparing academically is crucial to overwhelmed middle and high school students. Getting a tutor or going over summer reading lists is helpful in getting them ready for their new grade.
Getting into a routine a couple of weeks before school starts is necessary for children of all ages. Getting to sleep on time and waking up gradually at the time school starts will help them adjust their sleep patterns and be well-rested for learning. Eating a healthy diet and staying away from junk food also is critical.
“Make preparation fun, take them school shopping and get their backpack ready together, it’s helpful to give a positive spin to school,” Rivero-Conil said.
The back-to-school stress usually wears off after a couple of weeks when the child starts to get into a routine. If the anxiety persists, parents may need to seek professional help.
“When anxiety persists, you may see appetite change, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating or changes in sleep,” Rivero-Conil said.
Bober said if the child does need to see a professional, a complete evaluation would be made to see if there is a family history of anxiety. Bullying often is a top cause of anxiety.
“One type of therapy we use is exposure-based therapy,” Bober said. “For this, we gradually expose the child to the situation that makes them anxious and lessen the anxiety to help them cope better.”
Breathing techniques and play therapy are other methods to calming the child’s stress. If psychotherapy doesn’t work, and the child is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which is diagnosed in one in eight children in America, then medication may need to be prescribed. But, Bober said medication is prescribed very cautiously.
“Medication always comes with side effects so it should always be the last resort,” Bober said.