According to the 2015 WebMD Stress in Children Consumer Survey, 60 percent of parents in the United States rated their children’s stress as moderate to low, while 72 percent of youth displayed negative behaviors linked to stress. For younger populations, one of the most stress-inducing circumstances is entering a new school. When a history of abuse or addiction is added into the equation, the need for a smooth and structured transition becomes paramount for them and their parents.
Mary Alvord, Ph.D., and the American Psychological Association added, “Many parents may also be worried about their children starting a new school, changing school districts, facing a more rigorous academic year or dealing with difficult social situations. … Fortunately, children are extremely capable of coping with change and parents can help them in the process by providing a setting that fosters resilience and encourages them to share and express their feelings about returning to school.”
Parental tips to smooth a school-based transition
Linda Esposito, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in Los Angeles advised that parents need to listen to their children’s concerns, and above all else, validate them. From there, help strengthen their problem-solving skills and critical thinking by inquiring what professionals are available at school if they encounter a problem, such as a school psychologist, or asking what they should say or do to mediate a stressful situation.
In addition, experts at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center listed other parental strategies for effective behavioral management.
In a contribution for Psychology Today, self-help author Raychelle C. Lohmann reminded readers, “Back to school anxiety is common. Anxiety is the body’s way of alerting us to respond to dangerous or stressful events. It isn’t always a bad emotion, it can actually be helpful. Anxiety can help us stay focused, motivated and move us into action. So your teen may need to go through the feelings of anxiety in order to mentally prepare for the first day of school.”
If you or your teen is having trouble adapting to a new school experience, especially after dealing with substance abuse, contact Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego for comprehensive care that will keep one’s sobriety on track. Our team of consultants is always available to hear your story and get you the help you deserve. Just call our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer