Catholic Charities offers tips on identifying back-to-school stress

Going back to school can be stressful for kids of all ages. After a summer of sleeping late and having fun, the early mornings, unknowns and structure of a school day can weigh heavy on students. Some kids have a harder time than others adjusting to a new schedule.

Some kids will tell you if they are struggling but many won’t. Catholic Charities counselor Anna Smith gives us some insight into their behavior.

Trouble sleeping

When students are stressed, they may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep all night. You can try changing the evening routine to help them relax before bed instead of activities that may make them more stimulated like video games.


Some students may seem more irritable than normal as they adjust to their new routine. They could be tired from waking up early, or feel pressure by the course load and expectations to perform well. Parents can discuss expectations and help their children find reasonable strategies to meet the demands of school.

Rambling about worries

Kids have worries, just like adults. If you child is talking to you about their concerns it could come out as rambling. They may be plagued by “what if” questions about school. “What if I don’t like my teacher? What if I don’t make friends? What if I can’t find my class? These are just some of the thoughts that may race through your child’s mind and out their mouth,” said Smith.

Most of these concerns are typical for students going back to school and adjusting to a new school.

“Parent’s know their child best, if they notice extreme changes in behavior, it’s time to take a closer look,” said Ms. Smith.

Red flags

Extreme changes in behavior could include loss of appetite, pretending to be sick or actually becoming ill, personality changes such as an outgoing kid becoming shy or quiet. “Any extreme change in behavior could be a red flag that something is going on,” said Smith.

Parents can try to talk to their children to find out what is going on. Follow up with your child’s teacher, principal or counselor to see what they notice.

“Parents should take their child to the doctor for a check up to rule out a medical issue. If all is clear, a counselor can help discover the root of the problem and teach strategies for managing the stress,” said Smith.

Catholic Charities has trained counselors and offices throughout the valley. You can call 602-749-4405 for an appointment; fees are based on a sliding scale to make counseling affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1933, Catholic Charities provides care for the vulnerable of all faiths in Phoenix and northern Arizona through programs in foster care, early start education, housing, veteran services, refugee relocation and poverty reduction. Learn more by visiting Social connections include and


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