Back to school tips to combat anxiety and stress

Vancouver Island – School starts next week and while some children may be excited to see friends and get back into a routine, other children will feel anxious and worried. 

“It’s very common for children and youth to experience anxiety and stress as they head back to school,” says Island Health Psychologist, Lisa Van Bruggen, Ph.D. “Take steps now to support the transition from summer to school. Return to structured sleep and wake times. Try role-playing through what may be socially challenging situations for some children such as not having close friends in class or being assigned a tough teacher. Having a plan can reduce anxiousness.”

Here are some tips to prepare for back to school and signals that your child might need extra support. 

Tips for parents and guardians to support students:

  • Get into a routine now: set sleep and wake times
  • Plan nutritious meals and snacks
  • Have your child involved in choosing some of the back-to-school materials and clothing
  • Talk to your child about their worries and then try role-playing through those situations 
  • Take some time to practice walking, biking or bussing to school
  • Set up regular talk-time throughout the school year to encourage your child to share fears 
  • Help your child develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills
  • Focus on the positive and celebrate small accomplishments

Consider seeking help if your child:

  • Frequently attempts to remain at home 
  • Refuses to attend school on certain days 
  • Worries constantly or shows extreme shyness
  • Raises physical complaints with no medical explanation (stomach aches, headaches, difficulty catching his or her breath)
  • Throws tantrums, cries or screams excessively
  • Begins to act ‘out of character’

Youth aged 15 to 24 years may benefit from an app called BoosterBuddy created by Island Health and funded by Coast Capital Savings. The self-manage support system encourages users to share their feelings, keep track of appointments and medications, use coping skills, and follow self-care routines.

Central/North Island media inquiries:

Adrienne Breen

South Island media inquiries:

Meribeth Burton