Dealing with ‘Back to School’ Anxiety: 5 Tips to Assist your Child or Teen with ADHD Make a Smooth Transition | Sharon Saline, Psy.D. | 3 Min Read

1. Manage your own concerns first

woman on sofa with mug deep in thought

Kids have an incredible radar. They easily pick up when their parents are stressed or anxious and it increases their own distress, conscious or unconscious. The first step in decreasing the anxiety your child or teen is feeling is to lower your own. Take a few minutes and discuss your concerns with your partner, a friend, extended family member or counselor. Write these down and then strategize responses or to-do action items to each one by creating an “Anxiety Decelerator Plan.” This ADP will help you feel like you have some control. For instance, if your child needs more support than they received in the spring, one of your action items should be to contact the school adjustment or guidance counselor and set up a meeting. 

2. Identify their worries

father watching son writing in notebook

In order to reduce the frequency or intensity of kids anxiety we must first know what’s causing it. Being worried, thinking and environmental triggers can all set children and teens off leading them down the rabbit hole. But, we want to stop this tumble.

During your weekly or twice a week check-in meetings (which are a must), explore with your child what feels uncomfortable or uncertain to them about returning to school or their day-to-day experience. Write these down together and pick one fear to address first and when its volume is lower, then pick another and so on. Working on one issue at a time is not only more manageable, but will allow you to make progress faster. Remember, people can really only change one thing at a time. 

3. Consider prior successes

kids hands stacked on each other

When kids are anxious, they experience amnesia about times in the past when they overcame obstacles.

Talk to your child about a situation or two from the previous school year when there was a challenge that they dealt with successfully. What happened? What did they rely on inside of themselves to do this? Did anyone assist them? and write down their responses.

Each child’s response is a critical…

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Sharon Saline, Psy.D.

Sharon Saline, Psy.D. is a top expert in ADHD and neurodiversity. Dr. Saline specializes in an integrative approach to managing ADHD, anxiety, executive functioning skills, learning differences and mental health issues in neurodiverse and 2e children, teens, college-age adults and families. With over 25 years of clinical experience, she brings a positive, strength-based approach to improving the challenges related to attention, learning and behavior. As a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Northampton, MA, Dr. Saline helps people reduce frustration, develop daily living skills, communicate better and feel closer. An internationally sought-after lecturer, workshop facilitator, and educator/clinician trainer, she adeptly addresses topics ranging from making sense of ADHD and executive functioning skills to managing anxiety to understanding the teen brain. You may contact Dr. Sharon Saline at