Why do freshmen often experience high levels of stress and anxiety?

New school year? Why freshmen often experience high levels of stress and anxiety.

– by Frank Thomas

If YOU are heading to middle school, high school, college or university near Pine Bush NY, I don’t need to tell YOU about the butterflies and jitters that come with being a freshmen, do I?

In fact, the new school year for Pine Bush Schools brings stress and anxiety no matter how old you are.

Margaret Ross, a psychiatrist and director of Behavioral Medicine shares some insights on this subject.

She goes on to say:

“There are so many changes when a person comes to school. Sometimes they’ve been to camp or programs away, but for some it’s the very first time they’ve left home. That entails having to make certain decisions that they’ve never really encountered before. Such as, am I hungry enough to eat? Where should I go to eat? And how do I know when it’s time to do my laundry? Those are some basic activities of daily living.

There are obviously many more complex issues facing them, such as, where am I going to be living? With whom will I become friends? And what happens if I start out and don’t do well on my first test? Does that mean I should change fields? There are just so many things people face for the first time when they come to college. It’s really an order of magnitude jump from high school.

It’s such a change when they don’t have any parents around. They need to know how to make choices in such a way that they don’t feel they’re killing their social lives, but are able to function responsibly.”

Is there anything a Parent can do to help with first day at school stress?

She goes on to say…”They can be reassuring and normalize the situation for their child. To say: “What you’re telling me doesn’t surprise me. You’ve always taken a little time to adjust. Think how many changes there have been in your life. Going to a new school, going to a new city, meeting new friends, having new classes, making all these choices. Of course you’re taking some time to get used to it. That’s not alarming to me. Just hang in, we’re here, call as you need to, and we’ll see how it goes. We can always make changes going forward, but for now, let’s just give you some time to adapt.”

Fox 59 of Indiana interviews Dr. Greg Sipes about new school year anxiety.

In this article Edla Prevette, LPCA and Elizabeth Worley, LPCA give 12 tips on Dealing with back-to-school, new school anxiety.

They remind us that it’s not just freshmen that get school anxiety… but all kids get anxious meeting new teachers and classmates.

Here are 3 practical tips they share that I appreciate most that parents in Pine Bush NY might be able to use:

10. Normalize the anxiety.  Talk to your child about how it is normal to feel nervous or worried when starting something new.  Share personal stories about times you have been nervous when going to a new place and what you did to feel better.

11. Teach him some calm down strategies (deep breathing, counting to 10, telling himself that he can handle it, etc)

12. Remain positive and remind your child of her capabilities. Remember that kids get their cues from the important adults in their lives. If we feel comfortable and ready, there is a better chance that they will too.

Barbara Greenberg, on The Huffingtonpost adds another dimension to school anxiety that we hope we never have to

deal with.

School shootings.

That makes me anxious just typing this.

Notice what she shares:

“If, on the other hand, your teen is anxious about school safety and the possibility of school shootings then I suggest taking a different route. Find out where this anxiety is coming from. Is your teen picking up your anxiety? If so, then focus on controlling the message that you may be sending to your teen. There are several other steps that you will need to take as well. Talk to your teen about the facts including what safety precautions the school has in place. Does the school have a police officer? Does the school lock its doors? Have there been emergency drills? If so, what are the teachers and students taught to do in the event of a real or perceived threat? Teens tend to benefit a great deal from knowing that the adults around them have contingencies in place if they are in potential harm. Don’t let them fool you. They relax significantly if they know that the adults around them literally and figuratively have their backs.”

Listen closely to what this young man says about his own personal school anxieties.

Paula Durlofsky in this article on Managing Back-to-School Stress and Anxiety For the Whole Family offers 7 tips for managing back to school anxiety.

Here are two that appreciated:

2. Openly discuss as a family concerns about the upcoming school year. For example, if your child is starting a new school, it may be helpful to tour the school a few times before school actually begins. This is also helpful for returning students.

Taking time to talk to your children (no matter how old they are) about their worries and concerns about the new school year can make a huge difference.

This next one took me by surprise.

3. Manage your own anxiety and sadness. Children of all ages and parents may experience pangs of separation anxiety

Parents if we are anxious about the new school year we will contribute to the anxiety of our children.

We hope that you found these tips from the featured psychology therapists will be helpful to your children whether they are freshmen or not in dealing with new school year stress and anxiety.


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