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Signs that your child is experiencing back-to-school anxiety

As students are going back to school for the first time in a year, many may be showing signs of anxiety or fear. How to notice the signs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There is a lot going on for students right now — their lives were changed in the blink of an eye last year as NTI took over, and now they are heading back to the classroom more than one year later. It's a lot more stimulation than looking at a computer all day.

Greg Oerther, behavioral health outreach coordinator with UofL Health Peace Hospital, said anxiety is healthy.

"It's a big part of life, it's how we prepare ourselves for different situations," Oerther said. "Without anxiety, we wouldn't feel the stress that's needed to be successful in life." 

Oerther said both kids and parents are experiencing a lot of emotions right now. For kids, everything is an adjustment — they don't know if they will see their friends and their school routine of school is different.

"Our kids experience, just like we do, all five senses," Oerther said. "Through zoom you can only experience some of those senses. So that's going to be a big piece for them."

To understand how a student is handling this change, ask open-ended questions and be on alert to see any changes in behavior. Those changes could include withdrawing, sleeping more or less or becoming clingy.

"The key really is to see if their behavior changes anyway, just being responsive and paying attention to that," Oerthe said. "You know there is a balance between listening to your child, knowing where they are coming from and then helping them understand that they've faced challenges in the past, they're very resilient."

That can be anything from reminding them when they started a sports team for the first time or went to a new place. Oerther also reminds parents that anxiety is managed, not eliminated. 

If these tips do not work, and your kid is not able to function, call your pediatrician first. Peace Hospital is also open 24/7 for free, walk-in assessments.

RELATED: Kindergarteners head to school for the first time as JCPS returns to in-person classes

RELATED: JCPS ready to welcome students back in-person on Wednesday

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