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— Warren Broad is a Huntsville-based Private Counsellor, Marriage and Family Counsellor, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Recovery Specialist. He is the co-author of several books, including the Amazon Best-Seller, “It’s the Landing That Counts” and creator of the Recovery In The Now program for addictions and compulsions. He is a retired volunteer firefighter, and runs a series of group programs for anxiety, depression, marriage, law of attraction, addiction and personal growth.

Going back to school for many children is a simple thing. For some children, it is simply a matter of jumping on the bus and meeting friends in the yard. But for some children and teens, the simple ‘jump on the bus’ is not so simple. The reasons for anxiety can be both external or internal.

Perhaps your child has, or had, a bully or a difficult child to deal with in earlier school years. Perhaps there was a challenging relationship with a teacher or principal. There are many causes that can lead to anxiety as they transition back into school.

In the pre-teen years, most children are grappling with external challenges. These can include things like activities in the schoolyard, relationships with other students, teachers, learning, and homelife challenges.

In older teens, the back to school anxiety tends to center more around personal identity. Concerns regarding their appearance, speech, mannerisms, and social hierarchy are primary contributors, along with performance in tests and assignments.

In a future blog I’ll be tackling how parents can help combat teen anxieties. For those parents with pre-teens at home, here are some ways that you can help get your child back into the swing of school life, and help reduce their anxiety:

  1. Food And Rest

One of the easier things to manage is making sure that your child’s basic needs are met. Nobody copes well when they are tired or hungry. Anxious children often forget to eat, don’t feel hungry, and don’t often sleep well. Making sure that your child eats a proper breakfast and gets to bed early enough will help to insure their mind and body can function and manage normal daily stress.

  1. Problem Solve With Your Child

One natural things we do as parents is try to reassure our children. We try to remove or reassure our kids that everything will be fine. We want to remove their worries, but this does not ultimately aid them in solving problems they may be having at school. Dialogue, and encouraging your child to think of ways to solveproblems. For example. “If _______ happens what could you do?” or “Let’s think of some ways you could handle that situation.” This allows the parent and the child to discuss options and create solutions together. It also allows children to work through real and imagined scenarios. Both the parent and child will come away feeling much better than by simple reassurance alone, because now your child actually has a plan.

  1. Ask the right questions

Asking the standard ‘How was school today’ can tend to lead to prefab, short answers that don’t provide you with much information. It’s an easy question for kids to answer without having to think much, or just brush off the question. Asking a series of more specific and engaging questions can help open the dialogue, and help you gain more valuable information. Try being more specific, and pinpoint different areas of school life.

Where did you play at recess today?

What was your favourite lunch item? Who did you eat with?

When were you happiest today?

If you were the teacher in your class, what would you do differently?

  1. Focus On The Positive

It is very important to help redirect your child to positives rather than negatives. Encourage your child to redirect attention from negatives and worries, and direct it towards the positives. A well directed question like “What was made you laugh today?” can have a huge impact on moving your child’s attention from a negative state to a positive one.

  1. Pay Attention To Your Own Behaviour

Often the first days back to school are equally challenging for parents, and sometimes even more challenging! We must remember that children take their cues from their parents. The more confidence and comfort the parents show, the more the child will understand and emulate the parent. Be supportive and firm in your confidence and parenting.


It’s  important to not disregard anxiety in pre-teens. If at any point your child’s behaviors becomes severe, don’t hesitate to seek assistance. There are a myriad of resources available to help. Your child’s teacher, principal, family doctors, guidance counselors and private counseling services are all resources that can be used to assist with finding solutions for your child. Never go it alone if you are feeling overwhelmed, or are unsure of how to best support your child. Time is a fleeting resource for children, so the sooner you can seek help and address concerns, the better!

-Warren Broad
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