HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- The start of the school year can be very exciting for most kids, but for some it can be a little tougher.
Channel 3 spoke with doctors on how parents can best help their child cope with the nerves.
Questions that may arise in a young child’s mind include, will I fit in? Will I make friends? Will I do well in class?
Channel 3 spoke with Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Robert Keder who encourages parents look for warning signs in children and learn the best strategies to help children work through it.
“Anxiety doesn’t always pop up as a child saying, ‘I’m feeling anxious.’ So, anxiety can look a lot like irritability. If a child’s mood starts changing, that’s a sign to look out for,” explained Dr. Keder.
“Anxiety can take the form of complaining of headaches or stomach aches in the morning before going to school in what we call school refusal, not wanting to go.”
Other signs can include changes in sleep and in appetite, said Dr. Keder.
Dr. Keder recommends talking to your child on how he or she is feeling. He said getting a child to ‘talk it out’ can allow parents an opportunity to ease their fears.
If your child is afraid he or she might get lost in school, Dr. Keder recommends role playing. Role play a scenario of who your student may go to ask for help.
Dr. Keder said avoid overcompensating for your student. For instance, if your child said he or she feels ill, it is acceptable to stay home one day, but allowing the child to maintain control, feeds the cycle of anxiety.
Channel 3 spoke with parents and students in Newington on Monday about their experiences.
“Are you concerned that 6th grade will be a lot harder than 5th grade?” asked reporter Patricia Del Rio of Newington 6th grade student, MacKenzie Perzanowski.
“Yeah, I’m actually really worried that it will be a little difficult.”
Although MacKenzie’s parents told Channel 3 she does not have anxiety about returning to school, they said she is experiencing the back-to-school jitters about popularity in school.
“Yeah, I do have friends who do that a lot. They like always worry about their looks and like how they look on their social media. And I just always tell them like be yourself and people will like you for who you are,” said MacKenzie.
Dr. Keder said parents can help their child by teaching that when it comes to friendships, sometimes less is more.
“I think it’s hard with school and especially now with social media there’s this constant perception of what is popular,” said Dr. Keder.
“I think helping every child realize the only we need one or two really good friendships.”
Dr. Keder said how parents cope with anxiety is important, too. Children are perceptive and if they see their parents handling stress manageably, it will show positive coping habits.