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Combat Back-To-School Anxiety As Fall Approaches

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Going back to school can be absolutely terrifying to some kids, who sometimes end up worrying about how their peers and teachers will view them.

Those are all things Dr. Gretchen Lewis-Snyder has heard in her office. She says there's three ways to tell if your child has anxiety, and they can be summed up in three words -- avoidance, questions and sleep.

Lewis-Snyder said if your child avoids parties or wants to skip school and makes up excuses like having a headache or stomach ache, they could have social anxiety.

Many kids who are very anxious ask a lot of questions. If they start asking the same questions, hone in on what's really bothering them.

And if the anxiety is starting to affect their sleep, it's time to get help. Not getting enough shut-eye can only make the anxieties feel bigger.

One piece of advice is to teach children how to breathe.

"Breathing techniques can always be helpful, breathing through your belly slow. I say 'slow breaths not deep breaths,'" she said. "It can be helpful to practice that when you're not feeling nervous, because the hardest time is when you're feeling nervous."

The biggest issue Lewis-Snyder sees in her office is separation anxiety when younger kids have to leave mom and dad.

Also, many kids are afraid of getting sick, so they might avoid parties. Others worry about getting themselves or the class in trouble.

If you think your child needs more help dealing with his or her anxiety, Lewis-Snyder offers a four-session class for $35. It teaches things like factors that contribute to anxiety, and coping strategies.

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