Tackling Back-To-School Jitters

Lawrence Balter
As part of The Early Show's Back-to-School series in 2001, child psychologist Lawrence Balter had some advice on how parents can differentiate between normal first-day-of-school jitters and the more serious problem of "separation anxiety."

The first day of school can be an uneasy time for young children, even those who have some experience with school under their belts.

Just the way an adult feels a bit of anxiety and anticipation before doing anything new or challenging, a little nervousness is to be expected, says Dr. Balter. It's really a matter of degree.

But there are also conditions that are more serious than just age-appropriate worrying about going to school. Sometimes a child suffers from something known as "separation anxiety disorder," he says.

The following are some signs to look for:

  • Shows excessive distress when parents discuss school
  • Worries about bad things happening to relatives and caregivers
  • Shows fear of being alone
  • Has nightmares about separation
  • Complains of nausea, stomach aches and headaches

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