How to Calm Your Child’s Back to School Stress and Anxiety
Back to school time can be overwhelming for parents and students, even in a typical year. And this year has been anything but typical.
Some kids may be extra worried about returning this school year with the lingering uncertainty of how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect daily life. Concerns about the possibility of getting sick, wearing masks for in-person learning and feeling disconnected from friends can all add up to higher stress levels.
The emotional demands on children today make it critical to support their mental health so they feel safe, loved and secure.
Let’s explore some ways to help ease kids’ back to school stress.
How do kids show signs of stress?
To combat stress, you need to identify it. But it isn’t always easy to tell if your child is feeling stressed out. The American Psychological Association lists these warning signs of stress in children and teens:
- Negative changes in behavior, including acting irritable or moody and withdrawal from activities they previously enjoyed.
- Saying they “feel sick” often, which can indicate stress manifesting as physical symptoms.
- Acting out when they’re away from you, even if they seem like their usual selves at home.
- Using words like worried, confused, annoyed, angry (they may not know the word “stress,” especially younger children).
- Saying negative things about themselves and others, like “I’m stupid,” “Nothing is fun,” etc.
CDC recommends that kids eat healthy to manage stress
The Centers for Disease Control’s top tip for managing stress is a healthy eating plan centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), lean proteins, and nuts and seeds.
Cutting daily sugar intake in children is also a wise move, especially if they’re prone to stress.
Sam Adkins, also known as The Homeopathic Coach, points out that diets high in sugar force the adrenal glands to work extra hard.
The adrenals are already taxed by stress and anxiety, which causes increased production of adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones. Eating a sugar-laden diet on top of that intensifies this effect and can cascade into other health issues.
Smart stress-busting snack ideas
If your child’s nutrition suffered over the summer, with fewer rules and more treats, now is the perfect time to get back on track. Cutting down on junk food and sticking to a regular meal schedule will help your child’s blood sugar and energy levels stay steady throughout the day.
To keep kids’ blood sugar balanced and support the adrenal system, choose smart snack and lunch options like nuts, seeds, hummus with carrot sticks, hard boiled eggs, meat and fish. Foods high in vitamin B, vitamin C and magnesium also support adrenal function.
Don’t let kids skip meals, which can lead to hunger, blood sugar crashes and trouble concentrating. If extracurricular activities tend to derail your dinner plans during the school year, get in the habit of packing healthy foods kids can eat on the road if necessary.
There are many websites that help busy parents with easy recipes, food prep tips and other time-saving meal strategies, so you can find something that works for your family.
The APA’s 5 tips for back to school stress relief
The American Psychological Association developed a list of 5 tips for helping kids transition back to school, which we’ve expanding on here:
- Restart the routine: Don’t wait until the night before school starts to think about how school day schedule will flow. A week or two ahead of time, get back on track with a routine. Try going to bed and waking up at school year times to help kids’ body clocks reset. (They may complain at first, but it will be worth it in the long run). Figure out a healthy breakfast plan to avoid grabbing last-minute unhealthy foods. Get school supplies organized, make sure backpacks and lunchboxes are in good shape, and think through other daily to-do tasks ahead of time. By making the mornings calm and happy, you and your child will feel more ready for the day.
- Get to know your neighbors: If other kids in the neighborhood will be going to the same school, have them meet ahead of time to start building relationships before the first day of school. Walking into a building and seeing familiar faces can help ease the stress of the first day.
- Talk to your child: Spend some time having open conversations with your children about their back to school worries. Talking through what’s making them feel anxious can help kids process how they’re feeling. Validate their fears as you listen, staying positive and calm. Remind them these feelings are common and completely normal. Remind them that you can figure out solutions together.
- Empathize with your children: Let your kids know you get what they’re going through, and reassure them that you’ll be there for them. Remind them that new experiences can be exciting. Help them face their fears rather than trying to avoid them.
- Get involved and ask for help: Get to know your child’s school, school district, staff and other parents as much as possible. Feeling part of the community will help you and your child feel better about understanding the transition.
What to do if your child needs more help
Parents seeking a safe, natural approach to helping kids manage stress have options including homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies.
Mindsoothe Jr.™ is one of our favorite herbal supplements for children. It also comes in an adult formula so you can help keep your own stress in check.
What is MindSoothe Jr.™ for Childhood Emotional Balance?
MindSoothe Jr.™ is a safe, natural herbal remedy formulated to support children’s moods. It aids the brain’s ability to regulate mental health in children, maintaining the production of important brain chemicals and hormones that support emotional well-being. MindSoothe Jr.™ is 100% safe and natural, with no harmful side effects or risk of addiction.
For many kids, it’s also a great complementary remedy to our herbal formula, Serenite Jr.™, which supports calm moods and peaceful sleep in children.
Be a stress-management role model for your child
It’s no secret that seasonal transitions can be difficult for everyone in the household, including the grown-ups. Back-to-school time means returning to daily routines, after-school activities and other responsibilities that can weigh on adults’ minds.
Make sure you’re dealing with your own stress so you can best support your child.
When adults’ moods get out of balance, there’s Mindsoothe™ for us, too. Available as drops or veggie caps, this high quality herbal remedy helps support balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of well-being.
Set a good example and foster an atmosphere where your child feels comfortable opening up about their feelings. You’ll lay the groundwork for a successful first day of school and beyond.
Help Back to School Anxiety and Stress https://nativeremedies.blog/2021/07/21/help-back-to-school-anxiety-and-stress-fall-2021/
5 Herbs for Stress and Anxiety https://nativeremedies.blog/2020/09/14/5-herbs-for-stress-and-anxiety/
Kids Worry, Should You? https://nativeremedies.blog/2019/09/01/kids-worry-should-you/
- “Dealing with the Back to School Blues?” American Psychological Association. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.apa.org/topics/child-development/school-anxiety
- “Identifying signs of stress in your children and teens.” American Psychological Association. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/children
- Mueller, Christina. “Homeopathy For Stressed-Out School Kids.” Homeopathy & You, December 2018, p. 17. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.magzter.com/stories/Health/Homeopathy-You/Homeopathy-For-Stressed-Out-School-Kids
- “5 Tips to Ease Back-to-School Anxiety.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-tips-to-ease-backtoschool-anxiety
- “Anxiety and depression in children: Get the facts.” Centers for Disease Control. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html
- Adkins, Sam. “Solve Back To School Anxiety with Homeopathy.” The Homeopathic Coach. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.thehomeopathiccoach.com/solve-back-school-anxiety-homeopathy/