Back to School Anxiety

Updated on September 10, 2012
M.. asks from Appleton, WI
9 answers

Is anyone else experiencing back to school anxiety with their children? My daughter will be 8 next week. She has always had a very outgoing personality. However, lately she has become somewhat shy. Since school started she is crying before school, after school and before she goes to bed. She tells me that she misses me and that she wants to stay home with me. Now last year the same thing happen, but not as bad and she eventually got over it. I am at a loss for what to do... Anyone have any suggestions??

I have already contacted her teacher and the school guidance counselor to let them know what is going on. The guidance counselor did sit down and talk with her, but it seems like that was only a small bandaid on the situation.

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answers from Los Angeles on

How about having her meet w/a counselor OUTSIDE of the school system?

The change of venue and ideas may be helpful.

Ask her if anyone is bothering her.

Get her a "back to school" gift, fun time, new celebration plan. Start it now, right away.

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answers from Portland on


Take heart that some of the tears may be tiredness and adjusting to all the transitions which have taken place: likely, earlier bedtimes, earlier mornings, having to be a participant in school all day. She misses you because being home with you means that she has different expectations to meet, she gets more playtime and she has your attention.

None of these are bad things to miss. Add to this the fact that she may or may not have her buddies in her group, or some friendships may have changed over the summer.

I would give it a month or so, and then if you are still seeing distress, talk again to the counselor. Sometimes, kids get into the habit of getting upset at certain transitions. At other times, there is something deeper underlying their upset. I have nannied for a lot of families during back to school times (and my own son, included) and have seen that this transition back to schooling can take a while. This is why I suggest a month. At some point, she's going to get to know the routine, the kids in the class, and that no matter what, you aren't keeping her home from school. This experience will help her to get back on track.

Unless something significant has happened recently which you think may have contributed directly to her shyness, I would give things a little time. I've also observed that the times around birthdays, developmentally, can be tough, so I wonder if that might not factor in somehow, too, and perhaps this is how it's manifesting.

Good luck-- I hope things improve. Be patient.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Her teachers and counselor are not willing or able to really get to the bottom of things like you are. Bandaids are all they usually offer. I think it is worth looking onto if her classmates have anything to do with it. I would do this in a very round about way though. How I was always able to find things out was to lie in bed with them in the dark and just talk. Gently bring up some kids and situations (like the bus ride or lunchtime) that may trigger her sadness. Sometimes kids are unable to vocalize what is really bothering them or are just afraid to say. For example-when my son was that age he was acting unlike himself for a couple of days. At night during our talk it came out that one of the boys in his class was telling him outrageous tales about an alien in the moon or something and swearing it was real. Now my son didn't believe him but was really offended that someone would outright lie to him. We talked about it and he was fine after that.

It could also be that she just needs to get used to her new situation. Once everything become normal she may lose her anciety.

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answers from Duluth on

My son has had anxiety surrounding the holiday concert at his school every year, and last year it blossomed into outright school anxiety. My son is not necessarily the most socially adept (not bad, but just very forthright and loud and silly) and is very sensitive--not necessarily the best traits for an 8 year old boy, socially. He plays with mostly girls, and gets teased because he loves horses (which, around here, are a girl thing--they weren't when we lived in WA). Anyway, what we've found is that finding friendly people--pointing them out to him--was helpful. I wanted to avoid having a "safe" person for him at school, but rather to point out that there ARE people there that love him. We also talked about how I was here and if he ever really needed me (sickness, or something bad happened at school), his dad or I would be right there to pick him up--AND, worst case scenario (cuz this is how my kid thinks), someone else he knows and that loves him would take care of him. We worked out contingencies, showed him that people cared and did NOT think him a freak for his fears (you might need to work on this one--some 8 year olds are not real sympathetic to fears and anxiety; finding friends who are, and clueing them in with her permission, might help) made a world of difference for my son. He still can't eat breakfast in the morning, but he is going to school, knowing it gets better when he's there. He likes school; but he also likes his brother and baby sister, our farm, and being home with his dog and kittens. I did ask him once whether he'd like to homeschool and he said no, he likes his friends--so I know his anxiety is not preventing him from having fun at school, which makes me glad. If she is coming home upset too, I would work hard to figure out what aspect of school in particular is bothering her--I know some 8 year olds are homebodies, but it seems odd that she is suddenly missing you, although it's not at all out of the question that that's all it is. Perhaps sending a note in her lunch?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You could try buying matching bracelets. Then you wear one and she wears one. That way you can both have something to smile about during the day.

You could even get a special charm bracelet. They sell cheaper ones.

It's probably just transitioning from being at a comfortable, loving home to a school where there is expectations and frankly, no one really loves you. Hopefully it will pass!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

My son wouldn't go back to college and I want to die, that said, I hope your daughter's educators and paid professionals will know what to do in her case-such that this will never happen again. Best of luck-she probably just wants you to feel loved-could it be that she is worried about you while she is at school? It's baffling.

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answers from Houston on

School counselors cannot provide the help that a teacher can. I was a guidance counselor. We are good at group guidance sessions, but individual counseling takes more time than we have to give to the issue (hence the bandaids).


School counselors cannot provide the help that a teacher can. I was a guidance counselor. We are good at group guidance sessions, but individual counseling takes more time than we have to give to the issue (hence the bandaids).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I used to tell me kids that everyone has a job to do during the day time and then in the afternoon/evening we all meet back at home for family time. Mom has her job which is (fill in the blank), dad has his job (fill in the blank) and your job is to go to school and learn so you can come home and teach me all the new wonderful things you were taught today! I

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Is there something else going on in school teacher isn't aware of? What does her teacher say she's like during the day? If she isn't noticing anything odd, or out of place, perhaps it's the adjustment period. She did just spend an entire summer with momma. I will recommend that you do not nurture her behavior. Try not to worry.....Reassure her, talk positive, tell her she'll be making new friends and you can't wait to have them over to meet them. Hopefully that will spark some positive thiking on her part. Good luck.

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