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Fight back to school stress with psychologist’s advice

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While the start of the school year will make some parents cheer, the transition can cause a lot stress in students.

Michelle Storie, an assistant professor and coordinator of the school psychology program at SUNY Oswego, said getting kids back on a schedule is key to fighting back to school anxiety.

"If students have the routine, and they know how their day is going to operate, when they're getting up, what their morning activities are going to be, how they're preparing for bed at the end of the day, that's going to give them a sense of comfort,” said Storie.

In the weeks ahead, Storie recommends watching for signs that students may be feeling anxious about the coming school year.

"(Students may be) feeling restless or on edge or being more irritable than normal,” Storie said. “Sometimes students will describe anxiety in physical symptoms, where they might say they feel like they have a stomachache."

Storie said to be on the lookout for chances for students to visit their school or meet classmates and teachers during the summer, especially if they are transitioning to a new school. Some districts schedule these, or in other cases, parents can set up a visit by calling. The more parents can limit the unknown factors, the less anxious students will be.

"Get them into the school, if it's a brand new school. Get them familiar with the layout of the school. Sometimes if kids may have learning challenges, and maybe they've never had a locker before, they might be able to get their locker and locker combination ahead of time," Storie said.

After the school year starts, Storie said parents can encourage communication by asking open-ended questions at the end of the day like, “What was your favorite part of your day?” or “What was the most difficult part of the day for you?”

"See if there are areas that are causing them stress or anxiety and then try problem-solving and brainstorming with them strategies with what they can do in those particular situations," said Storie.

And Storie said don’t forget to highlight the positive parts of the new school year, like seeing friends and enjoying favorite clubs and activities again.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.