Back-to-School Can Be Emotionally Difficult For Students
Signs of Stress Can Help Parents Help Their Children
Abbot A. Bronstein, Ph.D. and Nathan M. Szajnberg, M.D.
Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute & Society
many students, heading back to school is much more difficult than
choosing a favorite backpack, binder and new clothes. Many children
exhibit anxiety about going to school that can be easily identified
following advice can help parents to ease the summertime to school-time
transition for their children as the first day of school approaches.
young children, watch for increases in behaviors that indicate
anxiety, such as sleep problems, bed wetting and clinging.
those who fared poorly in school last year, it is not just the
child who may dread the beginning of a new school year. Both parents
and children have somewhat parallel running anxieties around separation,
making friends and academic performance. The best way for a parent
to help a child through a difficult back-to-school transition
is to recognize what made last year difficult. A childs
life is divided into three sectors: home, neighborhood and school.
Try to localize the problem and address the one sector that is
causing the difficulty. Just talking about each area systematically
can bring relief to a child.
the first day of school into perspective. Remember that while
first impressions are important, both students and teachers need
time to develop their relationships. Neither the child nor the
teacher comes to school fresh at 8 a.m. Earlier events at home
or on the freeway can do a lot to determine ones attitude
when the bell rings.
children with no anxiety about school will be emotionally and psychically
fatigued by the added demand for concentration that a new school
year brings. Most children handle the transition to a new school,
classroom or teacher extremely well, and those with anxiety usually
settle in after a few days.
Bronstein is a faculty member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic
Institute, Mt. Zion Medical Center, and University of California,
San Francisco. Dr. Szajnberg is an award recipient of the National
Institute of Mental Health, maintains a private child and adolescent
psychiatric practice, and has served as a clinical professor at
University of California, San Francisco. The San Francisco Psychoanalytic
Institute and Society is a nonprofit organization and was founded
over 50 years ago. Psychoanalysts are experienced mental health
professionals, already possessing advanced degrees (MDs, PhDs,
MSWs), who have undergone at least eight years of psychoanalytic