What’s Going Around: Back-to-school anxiety

Parents can ease their child's transition back to the school year by slowing rolling back bedtimes and keeping open lines of communication.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 7:26 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Late nights, sleeping in, and hours of leisure, summer break is a wonderful time for kids until it’s time to get back to the grind. Cindy Griessel, a physician assistant with Mercy said she’s seeing parents and kids coming in for help with the transition back to school.

“So I think the biggest things, first of all, is just simply looking at our kind of eat-sleep schedule,” said Griessel. “If we’re used to our kids staying up later, and having a little bit of a flexible wakeup time. I think now is a great time to start talking about what time do we need to get up in the morning? What time do we need to go to bed so that we’re sure our kids are getting adequate sleep and then depending on where we’re falling currently, backing that bedtime up by 15 minutes.”

Griessel said during the transition back to school, it’s important for parents to keep an open line of communication with their kids.

“With younger kids I see more of a behavioral switch, ”said Griessel. “Their parents will bring them in and say gosh I’m noticing this emotion or Joey’s getting in trouble at school or misbehaving at home. For our older kids, a lot of times, they shut down, they’re a little bit more quiet perhaps.”

Griessel said there are things parents can watch for that could signal their child is struggling.

“I would tell you, number one, if you see your child not able to go to sleep and sleep through the night, if their pattern of sleeping has changed, that’s huge because obviously they’re either thinking about things, mulling over things, anxiety is keeping them awake,” said Griessel. “If you notice a change in their eating patterns, if they were a great eater before, not picky and suddenly to saying I’m not hungry. That’s a sign to just we should explore something further. I also think if you start seeing were complaints of illness, I don’t feel good, my stomach hurts.”

Griessel said if a parent is concerned about their child’s transition or their mental health, they should talk to their child’s primary care physician.

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