Healthy Living: Back to school jitters and separation anxiety

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Summer fun in the sun is winding down and pretty soon it's back to school.

So you know what that means, early wake-up calls and early bedtimes for the kids.

"Young children between the ages of about 6 to 12  need at least 9 to 12 hours of sleep," said Dr. James Polo, Regence Medical Director.  "Kids that are older than 12 into the adolescent years need about 9-10 hours of sleep so take away those cell phones and make sure they’re getting plenty of rest."

They're going to need it, after the year we've had. A lot of screen time with virtual learning and not enough socialization will make a full day of in-person learning pretty exhausting at first.

Doctors say this year expect more emotional challenges.

"For younger kids, some kids will have what’s called separation anxiety. that’s anxiety or fear related to being away from their parents. For children that haven’t been in school in the past year, that may be even worse," said Dr. Polo.

Dr. Polo says now is the time to practice by planning a couple of hours of separation from your children to get them comfortable with a full day. Also, look for signs and symptoms of worsening anxiety or even depression.

"Changes of appetite, changes in their sleep, or just changes in their mood. If you notice your child is constantly irritable, upset, or angry, talk to them, ask them questions. Listen, see what’s going on," he said.

Experts say it's important to validate their feelings because your support can truly help foster more open conversations. Also, talk to your kids about bullying and make sure you know how your child’s school handles bullying situations.

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