Back-To-School Anxiety Rises Among Students

“Back-to-school” anxiety is common among students. Every student feels a little anxious about going to school after long summer vacation or even after a two-day weekend break. However, the past year’s quarantine has not only stretched the period of vacation but has also significantly altered students’ behaviours and perceptions regarding school life. It is only natural that their anxiety rises with the recent opening of schools.  

According to Dr. Anirban Gozi, a children’s counsellor in Newtown, “With a whole year of virtual, at-home learning, kids may now find it difficult to adjust to being away from the safety of their home and parents.” Add to that the fear of the virus and even well-adjusted children are now experiencing heightened stress. For children who already suffered from anxiety, returning to physical classrooms may worsen their symptoms. 

Signs of anxiety and stress in children

Children are generally resilient and will manage this transition just fine with their parents’ right help and support. However, those who already suffered from anxiety or emotional problems or had behavioural issues before the pandemic may require additional assistance. Dr. Gozi, a children’s counsellor in North Kolkata, lists some signs of anxiety and stress in children that parents should lookout –

Signs of anxiety and stress in 2 to 5-year olds 

  • May become more whiny or clingy. 
  • Have trouble sleeping, become afraid of the dark and start having nightmares. 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Behaviour may regress.

Signs of anxiety and stress in 5 to 9-year olds 

  • May become clingier than usual
  • Start showing signs of anger, get irritated and cry or otherwise resist going to school. 
  • Start having nightmares and sleep problems, along with poor concentration. 
  • May stop showing interest in engaging with friends or activities they used to enjoy.

Signs of anxiety and stress in 10 to 19-year olds 

  • May develop sleeping problems 
  • Eating disturbances 
  • Get easily agitated 
  • Headaches or stomach aches. 
  • Poor concentration 
  • May engage in some delinquent behaviour

How to help children get over their school anxiety

Going back to in-person learning is a significant transition for kids and it is natural to be upset and stressed. However, the anxiety will typically subside after children settle into the new routine.

According to Dr. Gozi, a paediatric psychiatrist in North Kolkata, parents may find their children overly tired and more emotional than usual in the first few weeks of school. This is normal. However, if they notice a significant shift in behaviour like the symptoms mentioned above and the behaviour does not go away after a few weeks, this could signal problems and parents should address the issue.

This is the time to communicate with the kids and encourage them to share their problems. Parents should acknowledge their concerns even if they disagree with them. After understanding their kid’s issues, parents should work with them to develop a plan and find solutions. Activities like painting, working on a craft, exercising, reading a book or listening to calming music together can work wonders in reducing children’s anxiety. 

It is crucial to remember that even small activities like a short walk together or breathing exercises can help both parents and children mentally regroup and feel less overwhelmed. 
If your child continues to show signs of anxiety and stress for weeks and nothing seems to work, it would be best to get them enrolled in a children’s counselling program. Dr. Gozi can help children understand the underlying cause of their anxiety and empower them with skills to manage their symptoms and reduce stress.