Beating the back to school butterflies

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – August is the time of year many students dread a new class, new teacher, or maybe even a new school.

"They've been off the job for a few months now and it's like, 'oh my gosh I've got to go back and I'm in a new I going to remember what I need to remember? Am I going to get used to this new schedule? It's harder,'" said Michelle Trenton, a Family Therapist at Samaritan Counseling Center.

She says symptoms of back to school anxiety are not just mental, they are physical.

"Look for headaches, stomach aches because kids that aren't really great at expressing themselves are going to put it in their body some kind of way," she explained.

Dealing with students' nerves now could save their grades and health as the school year goes on.

"Have a pre-game plan...let them give you feedback," said Trenton.

She suggests parents should practice a homework schedule with their children before school starts to ease them into the transition. A few butterflies in their stomach are normal, and will pass, but Trenton says kids who refuse to talk about school at all may need more help.

She said, for example, "not being excited about their new backpack or their school supplies or cool erasers that they got."

Most children can feel jitters especially about making new friends, but Trenton has a solution to that.

"I'm planning something for my kids this weekend to try to get them together with some of their friends so that they can kind of start talking again. If you've done that over the summer, bravo! If you haven't, you're not alone," said Trenton.

Ignoring signs of anxiety can lead to more trouble down the road.

"Saying, 'oh my child's this way all the time every year.' Yes, but if they keep being that way every year it can build if you ignore it," said Trenton.

The jitters are contagious, so anxious parents can rub off their nerves on the little ones.

"Even if you're not relaxed, poker faces please," suggested Trenton.

She also says communication with your child is crucial to nip any fear they have in the bud. If the anxiety does not pass, children should talk to the school counselor or a professional because Trenton warns the butterflies can turn into a phobia of school.

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