HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This week, kids around the Tennessee Valley are starting their school year. But some of their mixed emotions about the year, particularly if they're starting a new school or in a new environment, can be difficult to handle.
WHNT News 19 talked to Vanessa Robinson, a counselor at Randolph School, about the reasons a student might feel anxious even after the first week of class has passed.
"There's a lot of excitement around. The kids are glad to be back, generally happy. It's an exciting time of year," she stated. "But even for those that are confident, they can be nervous."
She said there are some signs your child may be having a tough time adjusting.
"For students starting a new school, that's always a stressful time. Whenever there's a transition," she said. "If it is continuing, and there's still some dread or anxiety, if the child is complaining about not wanting to go, having a difficult time separating, if they are having physical complaints like stomachaches and headaches, that can be an indication that they are having a rough time getting settled in."
If this sounds like your child, she advised talking to your child and those who deal with that child at school.
"Talk to someone at the school, whether that be the teacher, the counselor, the school nurse, or someone in administration. Just say, 'Hey, I want you to know I am a little worried. They seem to be having some adjustment problems.' It's also good to have someone at school who is keeping an eye on your child, and a safe person."
She said when you ask your child what's wrong and open up the conversation, you should keep it hopeful and positive.
"What parents can do at home is focus on the positive, and not react to everything they are saying. But listen," she advised. "You can ask if they would like to strategize on how they can solve some problems. If they choose to do that, then walk them through some scenarios about what that would look like."
Robinson said there is one situation where you might want to seek advice from medical professionals: "If you're seeing some extreme reactions that are not getting better, that maybe you feel are not developmentally appropriate," she stated, "I think it is a good time to talk to your pediatrician. Talk to someone in the mental health field that can help you find ways to support your child."
She continued, "Such as, if you have an older student refusing to get out of the car, or getting into the car, or getting out of bed, thats a more extreme reaction. That's something you would not expect."
Robinson said it is important to make sure your child understands things are going to get better.
"You can talk to them about, 'This is normal to have these kinds of feelings when you have new things in your life," she said.
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Randolph School has three counselors, two nurses, and student support teams for every division, Lower (K-4), Middle (5-8), and Upper (9-12), that focus on the social/emotional well-being of students.