Living Healthy: Easing back to school stress - WHDH-TV 7News Boston

Living Healthy: Easing back to school stress

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BOSTON (WHDH) -- September means school is back in session! For many young students, that can mean some high anxiety.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things parents can do to help ease their stress.

While back to school anxiety is normal, for some children it can be all too much.

“All parents know their kids, know what natural anxiety is, they can work with that,” said Dr. Sean Palfrey of the Boston Medical Center.

Natural anxiety for a child would include crying or complaining about having to go to school.

“Even having a little bit of a headache or stuffy nose, all of which are true and real, but not necessarily illnesses. Some kids have these things because anxiety makes them have them have a upset stomach, that doesn’t mean it’s an illness per se,” said Dr. Palfrey.

Doctor Palfrey said while most anxiety resolves itself over time, there is a limit.

“If its 2 weeks, that’s probably too long. Two weeks would be a red flag. Something is unusual about this setting. Your child should be relatively comfortable in the setting by a week,” said Dr. Palfrey.

If a child doesn't seem to be improving, parents should offer to go to school and help pinpoint what is causing the problem and they should always stay positive.

“Parents have to take the responsibility, being upbeat, encouraging, being supportive, being enthusiastic,” said Dr. Palfrey.

Most of all parents should not be dismissive or angry at an anxious child.

“Don’t just say, ‘Tough, kid. You gotta go.’ Your kids need to know you are on their side,” said Dr. Palfrey.

Dr. Palfrey said older kids in the family can be a huge help to younger brothers and sisters experiencing anxiety since younger children will often model their behavior after them.

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