Navigating Anxiety: Sending Kids Back to School

As the back-to-school season starts, parents and children across Maryland  are faced with a whirlwind of emotions. Among them, anxiety tends to take center stage. This natural apprehension stems from a desire to protect and nurture our children in an unpredictable world. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common anxieties parents experience and offer some strategies to help ease the transition back to school.

1. Separation Anxiety

You may have always conceptualized this coming from the child’s perspective. Separation anxiety is part of child development but parents can have it, too.  For many parents, sending their child off to school can feel like the first step towards letting go. This is especially true if your child never went to daycare or preschool. The fear of separation can be overwhelming, they tow of you are a dyad so it makes sense to feel anxious when separated for a whole day.  It’s important to remember that separation is a healthy part of a child’s development. Establishing a routine and maintaining open communication can go a long way in easing this anxiety.

anonymous mother leading daughter to school in city. many parents have anxiety sending their child to school.
Photo by Caleb Oquendo on

2. Safety Concerns

In an ever-changing world, concerns about safety are paramount. Parents may worry about their child’s well-being in light of various factors, including health crises, bullying, or gun violence.  Staying informed about the school’s safety protocols, engaging with teachers and administrators, and teaching your child about personal safety measures can provide reassurance.  Schools in Baltimore County routinely run “ALICE “ drills.  Although this may seem more anxiety provoking, children tend to feel safer if they know what to do in a school shooting.  

3. Academic Pressure

Parents often want the best for their children, and academic success is a significant part of that equation. The pressure to excel academically can lead to anxiety for both parents and students. It’s crucial to remember that every child has their own pace and learning style. Encouraging a love for learning and providing a supportive environment can help alleviate academic-related stress.

4. Social Success 

The social aspect of school can be a source of anxiety for children and parents alike. Worries about making friends, fitting in, or facing peer pressure are entirely normal. Of course, we all dread “mean girls” and bullies.  Encouraging open conversations about social experiences and fostering social skills at home can empower your child to navigate these challenges with confidence.

5. Health and Wellness

Especially in light of recent global events, health concerns are at the forefront of parents’ minds. Balancing the need for social interaction and education with health precautions can be a delicate task. Staying updated on health guidelines, teaching your child about hygiene practices, and encouraging open dialogue about their concerns can help address this anxiety.

6. Emerging Independence

If you tend to shout “Be Careful!” very quickly whenever your child attempts to do something semi risky, you are not alone.   Many parents instinctively warn their kids of any possible danger.  This is not a bad thing but kids do need to experience some risk to grow their independence and confidence.  This may look like a 5 year old climbing a tree or a 9 year old walking to a friend’s house by themselves. Unfortunately, your child may have anxiety around doing new things.

Dr.Fawn McNeil-Habe suggests:  “Scaffolding is key! Work children up to age-appropriate independence through pushing them just lightly out of their comfort zone.  If they are walking to a friend’s house, walk within eyesight but not with them.  Then move to walking half way before just standing at the front door.  Remember to celebrate all progress!”

While your child is testing out their new skills, you can use some mindfulness techniques to calm your inner anxiety. 

a girl holding a longboard walking with new friends.
Photo by Max Fischer on on 9/28/23

Sending kids back to school is undeniably a significant milestone, accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions. Acknowledging and addressing  anxieties is an essential part of ensuring a smooth transition for both parents and children. By fostering open communication, staying informed, and providing a supportive environment, parents can empower their children to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Remember, you are not alone in your anxieties. Reach out to other parents, teachers, and support networks for advice and reassurance. Together, we can navigate this journey and watch our children grow into confident, capable individuals.

If you find you need extra support, we can help!  Our expert Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners and Therapists help  women with anxiety! 

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