With the new school year about a month old, stress levels for students should have dropped.
“We would expect stress to start about a week before the start of school and after a week into school,” said UNMC Child Psychologist Dr. Ryan Edwards. “If they last longer than a week indicative of something going on.”
UNMC Psychologist Dr. Jonathon Sikorski said that generally, students will have a transition period from a summer schedule to a school schedule.
“Anytime there is transition you may see an escalation in attention-seeking behavior,” Dr. Sikorski said. “A kid is anxious. You might see them not get out of bed in the morning, slow to start, clingy, all pretty common. Your adjusting sleep schedule provides less free time. After two weeks, they should be back into their routine. If you see they seem pretty low for more than two weeks. If you see them fainting sick, complaining of stomach aches, not wanting to go to school, their sleeping and eating habits change, parents should talk to their child about what they are seeing.”
Dr. Sikorski said family dinner is a wonderful time to talk.
“I know it doesn’t exist as much anymore, but a chance to sit down as a family unit and just check in really helps,” Dr. Sikorski said. “Sometimes the most powerful words you can give someone is saying that sucks, and that it must be rough going through that. Simple words like that can build rapport.”
Parents should look for changes in behavior, especially if children and teenagers stop succeeding in school.
“If they’re really active high achieving student and all of a sudden they are grades are dropping concerns about them doing risky behaviors, drugs or alcohol, sex and that’s a big change, a big sign,” Dr. Sikorski said. “If a student feels like their life is careening out of control and they
are anxious about school, homework, sports and they feel like they are involved in everything and can’t handle everything. Having anxiety in middle school or high school puts you in ‘the everybody has it’ club. It’s just the degrees you have it.”
If the erratic behavior continues, parents should ask for help. Dr. Edwards said a school counselor can be a good intermediary. If the student still shows signs of depression, the student should see a doctor.