Healthy Living: Managing back to school anxiety

Kids and parents are settling into a new school year, but remember, it may take some time to shake that back-to-school anxiety.

There is the stress of the morning routine, new teachers, friends, staying organized, studying and homework.  Let's face it, getting back into the swing of things can be a challenging time for many families.  If that's happening to you, please know you're not alone.  Also, there are some very simple steps you can take to make the transition smooth for everyone.

We sat down with Megan Frye, a licensed psychologist with Seattle Children's Hospital Odessa Brown Children's Clinic to talk about managing back to school stress.

First off, Frye says it's typical for kids to be worried and anxious as they go through any type of transition.  She says the key is to be consistent and get connected.

Frye suggests setting a consistent routine in the morning, afternoon and at bedtime.

Frye says one thing parents can do is create a launchpad to make getting out the door in the morning frenzy-free.  A launchpad would be a place where all the basic school items live, including a backpack, supplies and homework.  It's also a good idea to set up a homework zone.  This is a spot where kids can concentrate, free of distractions.  Make sure it's in a place where a parent or adult is nearby to offer help if needed.  Many experts also recommend setting a consistent bedtime.  Most school age kids need between nine and twelve hours of sleep a night.  Keeping that consistent will not only help them get up in the morning, but also keep them going throughout the school day.

When it comes to connection, Frye says kids thrive in schools where they feel connected and when their family is also involved. Frye suggests plugging in, finding opportunities to volunteer, go to back to school night, meet the teachers and staff and get to know the administrators and school.  Find out the best way to communicate with your child's teachers.  Is it through email, over the phone or in person?  Also, Frye recommends working with your child to identify two adults that can be their support system in school.  That can be anybody from an instructional assistant, a coach or a teacher.  Basically a person they can go to if they're in need.  Make sure those people also know you and your child have selected them as a support person.

Finally, if you're the parent of a younger child just starting school for the first time.  If a child is having a hard time with separation anxiety, you could give them an object that can help them feel connected to you throughout their day.  It can be a small item from home they could keep in their pocket, a picture, or maybe a necklace.  Basically something that they can turn to when you're not there and feel comforted.  Also, reassure your child that you're going to see them after school.  Kids pick up on parents and family anxiety, so model a positive excitement and let kids know they're going to be successful, and that you have git hopes for them in the year ahead.