Returning to school after months of summer fun, sleeping in and no homework is a hard transition! For some kids, it’s a matter of readjusting to the routine and demands of school. Give them a week or two and they’re back in the groove. They don’t seem all that fazed by entering a new grade with a different teacher and an unfamiliar mix of peers. They appear to take the transition in stride.
Not your child?
For some kids, especially those experiencing anxiety, the unknown and uncertainty of a new school year is utterly overwhelming. The “what if…” questions are unrelenting, widespread and VERY far-reaching. It’s not worry over a specific problem that has an answer or solution, rather it’s worry in the form of chain reactions and worst case scenarios. The response is to worry – worry – worry, because it’s figured that worrying about the “what ifs” ahead of time helps to prepare for the future, escape disaster and feel in control. Truth is – it’s a trap. This kind of worry is unproductive and only serves to heighten anxiety. In CBT, children are taught useful tactics for responding to thoughts of worry, and they come to realize they have a choice – ride the “what-if” train or decide to get off.
www.worrywisekids.org is a terrific resource for parents of anxious children. It describes symptoms of various anxiety disorders and how to find effective treatment. Dr. Tamar Chansky, creator of the WorryWiseKids, is also the author of the highly recommended books, Freeing Your Child From Anxiety and Freeing Your Child From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.