Parenting Tip of the Week: Help Teens Combat Back to School Anxiety

by James Lehman, MSW
Parenting Tip of the Week: Help Teens Combat Back to School Anxiety

It’s common for kids to have a lot of anxiety about the start of the school year, especially if they’re entering a new grade or going to a new school. All of these issues weigh very heavily on the minds of teens and pre-teens. And children with any type of impairment—whether it be a neurological one, like stuttering; a physical issue, such as obesity; or behavioral problems—will have anxiety levels that are even more intense than kids who don’t. But the truth of the matter is that almost all kids will experience some elevation in their nervousness and apprehension at the start of school.

I always advise parents to use the tools you have. Talk to your kids in a very positive way about the next year, and connect what you say to something real your child has accomplished.Begin with, “Boy,Tyler, this could be a really great year for you because you worked so hardin algebra classlast spring,” or “Hey, Sarah, that time you put into sciencelast year is really going to pay off when you go to middle school.” Or you might say, “Listen, Jack, all that running you did is going to really show the first couple of days of soccer.” Say these kinds ofphrases to your child regularly and always make what you say realistic. It’s very important to connect your statements toactual things. So we don’t say, “Hey, Tyler, this is going to be a special year for you because you’re a beautiful person on the inside.” Instead, say, “This is going to be a great year because of how well you’ve learned to get along with the neighborhood kids this summer.” Always connect it to somethingtangible that your child can grab onto and affirm, because this gives them something real to build on when they’re feeling insecure at school later on.

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James Lehman, MSW was a renowned child behavioral therapist who worked with struggling teens and children for three decades. He created the Total Transformation Program to help people parent more effectively. James' foremost goal was to help kids and to "empower parents."


I wish I would have had this a couple of days ago, as my two youngest sons, one with a reading disability and ADD and one with stuttering and OCD and ADHD just started their freshman year in high school TODAY.

Comment By : GD

We are adopting a 15 year old girl from foster care. She has been with us two months and one of those months was 'visitation'. To her everthing is new (family, friends, school, and 200 miles away from old home). With the program, she is making huge changes in her life. She sees my wife and I as one unmoveable part of her life. That gives her the security she needs to set goals (with our help) for the future. I have sat through many talks with her about boys, arguments with friends, birth control pills for her acne (past foster parents idea, we'll pay for Proactive) and whatever comes to mind. I'll listen. She is removing piercings, where piercings should not be. Thanks for the program! Could you please get this progam to my social worker? She is clueless.

Comment By : Super Dad

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Back to School Anxiety, Teen School Behavior, Teen Anxiety

Responses to questions posted on are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

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