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School-related anxiety and nerves: one expert's advice

Claire Cameron is an educational psychologist at SUNY Buffalo, specializing in early childhood

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New school, new bus, new activities — it can all be a lot for a young mind to keep track of. With anxiety being the leading mental health issue among young people in America, 2 On Your Side spoke with a local expert who has some advice for parents this school year. 

Claire Cameron is an educational psychologist at SUNY Buffalo, specializing in early childhood. She says constant communication with kids about what's on their upcoming schedule can help calm anxiety or nerves. When doing this, she suggests being as specific as possible.

"It's really important to just tell children what's coming up next." Cameron gave an example: "Tomorrow's Monday, that means you're going to school. The bus is coming. Mr. Peter and Miss Amonie, you're going to see them. You're going to go to school and see your friends. You're going to have so much fun." 

As far as tone, Cameron says that using cautious optimism can go a long way when relating to your child in these conversations. 

 "Be upbeat and positive but leave room for children to express uncertainty because starting new things is hard for everybody," Cameron says. 

Next, Cameron suggests to get your children involved in preparing for school or after-school activities. 

"Maybe have them help you pack whatever bag is needed for that activity, so that they're getting in that mindset of 'oh, I'm going to be doing this after school. I need this equipment or these materials.'" 

Developing, and sticking to, a routine like this can really pay off, as tough as it can be to make time for it for every day. 

"It doesn't have to be this long routine, for young children, just three things that are signals that the school day is starting, or the after school day is starting can be really helpful," Cameron says. "Try to keep those things the same as much as possible."