It’s the start of a new school year! Parents may rejoice sending kids back to school, but for the kids themselves it can be a stressful time. During the school year, both coursework and social situations may cause kids stress. Some stress is expected from coursework, and a small-to-medium level of stress is actually good in that it helps us to perform our best. Too much stress, though, is not good, especially in children.

Stress may manifest itself different ways in kids. Some children will show physical symptoms such as headache and stomachache. Other children may have greater difficulties concentrating and/or become more emotional. Sudden changes of academic performance, mood swings, clinginess or defiance to authority.

Helping kids to deal with stress can be tricky because they may not have the words to fully describe what they’re feeling. Spending extra time with your kids can help, as is setting a positive routine that involves balanced meals and enough sleep. Kids may not want to talk immediately, but by keeping yourself available they may come around to it over time. Expressing interest in your kids’ days, even when they’re stressful or negative, shows that you care about them. You may also share some of your past stressful experiences and discuss how you coped.

If you feel that you’re not able to help your child to reduce stress or if symptoms of stress last a long time you may consider seeking professional help.