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How to Prepare Your Anxious Child for the Last Day of School

Childhood anxiety has become more pronounced and prevalent in our children. In fact, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, one in eight children has an anxiety disorder. A certain amount of anxiety is healthy; however, anxiety is identified as a disorder when the indicators are excessive and controls a child's overall functioning.

With anxiety disorders, the intensity, duration, or frequency of the anxiety and worry is far out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the feared event, and exceeds the normal level for the child's stage of development. One of the greatest contributing factors to childhood anxiety is when there is an anticipated change or interruption in a child's routine. All children react to change and unconsciously crave structure and consistency; however, children who struggle with anxiety have greater difficulties coping and recovering from these life events. One such major event for a child is the end of the school year.

Why is My Child Anxious?
Why would a child be anxious about the last day of school? Don't kids usually want school to end? For most children, this is not always true. Children develop new and lasting friendships at school, with both peers and teachers. They engage in activities that foster these connections while learning about themselves. When school ends, a natural distance appears between these connections. There is also a higher degree of unpredictably throughout the day and less consistency with a routine.

As parents, we naturally become anxious as the last day approaches as well. Similar to our children, we rely on our routine and autonomy. For parents with anxious children, the last day of school may elicit some similar reactions. We think, "What are my childcare arrangements going to be? How can I afford summer camp? Do we have time and money for a vacation?"

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