How to Keep Kids From Buckling Under Back-to-School Stress

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Headaches, stomach aches and even trips to the emergency room are some of the symptoms of stress exhibited by kids as young as 5.

“Stress and anxiety is one of the biggest struggles that our child and youth are facing today,” Michele Kambolis, a child and family therapist in Vancouver, Canada, told ABC News.

Kambolis is the author of “Generation Stressed.” She says she has seen a steady uptick in the number of stressed-out kids, often peaking as kids head back to school.

“The anticipation of not knowing what to expect, all of that anticipatory anxiety can really be upsetting to them,” she explained.

Kids’ trips to the emergency rooms for complaints regarding headaches, for instance, jump in the fall, according to a study conducted over the course of five years by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Hannah Faustus, of Arlington, Texas, knows all about school-related stress.

“I get headaches; I get the feeling I’m going to throw up,” Hannah, 7, said.

Her mom, Carrie Lenamond, says the stress became more pronounced a few days before school started this year.

“The routine and the schedule and going back and the transition, that does produce some anxiety,” Lenamond said.

While every child is different, experts recommend trying these tips:

Encourage your kids to put down the iPad and get up and exercise.

Use active listening. Stay empathetic and repeat what your child says to ensure you understand him or her correctly.

And create a worry wall in your home, where your kids can add their worries on Post-It notes to avoid internalizing their stress.

“What really seems to help the most is talking to her, reassuring her we’re for her, we love her no matter what happens,” Lenamond said.

“When I get worried, I talk to my mom.”

Although every kid reacts differently to high-pressure situations, the first step is to make sure they know that nobody’s perfect and that they should let parents and adults know when they feel overwhelmed.

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