Experts prepare students & parents for back to school anxiety

August is National Wellness Month and with the school rush in full swing some may have more stress and anxiety than usual, but experts are weighing in to help.
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - August is National Wellness Month and with the school rush in full swing some parents and students may have more stress and anxiety than usual.

Topeka Public Schools held a Meet the Teacher Night allowing parents and students to get comfortable with the school, classroom layout and teachers before their first day. We stopped by McEachron Elementary School to see how they were preparing.

“The classrooms are all decorated. They look great for the kids and they can see their classroom desks and where their names are at too because that’s important to know where they’re going to sit at in the classroom. I think another one that I always forget about is sometimes they want to know who is in their class so we have the class list posted out so it’s like, so and so is in my class so that lowers their stress,” says Victor Williams, Principal at McEachron Elementary School.

Mental health experts say the pressure of the unknown can be stressful, so they recommend routine, good sleep, proper nutrition and reduced screen time to ease the tension.

“Kids need routine. Kids need stability. Kids need attachment. If you do those three things you will produce a confident child who has a healthy self-esteem and they feel like they can conquer the world,” says Mental Health Expert at the Florida Institute of Neural Discovery, Dr. Vince Callahan.

McEachron Middle School student, Aerius Smith says he is nervous about how hard his classes may be this year.

“Very nervous. Math, reading a bunch of stuff. They could be adding like a hundred plus a million or something,” says Smith.

Like Aerius, many students will face struggles in the classroom but experts say a lot can be done to reduce their anxiety starting at home.

“Parents we can make the decision that I’m not going to get upset. I’m not going to get stressed. We don’t have to be managed by our emotions. We can manage our emotions. Now three-year-old Johhny can’t do that but 30-year-old Joe can.

“So I try and tell parents, especially on that first day of school don’t get them in trouble for something. If they were late getting up or didn’t quite want all their breakfast or they didn’t want something don’t do the yelling. Don’t get them in trouble. Don’t punish them because they are a reflection of your own anxiety. Kids are a reflection of what they see in their parents,” says Dr. Callahan.

USD-501 kindergarten students start school August 8th, and all other students will return on August 9th.