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Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 7:52am
(CNN) — The beginning of a new school year can be an anxious time for children of any age. Whether it's the transition to kindergarten, junior high, or high school, experts say there are simple things parents can do to curb those jitters and make kids feel at ease.
Clinical Psychologist Maria Zimmitti said younger kids tend to worry about whether they will have friends, and if older kids will be nice to them when they start a new school.
Zimmitti said even high school students can get the jitters.
"The pressure of homework, the getting up early, going to bed late, all the other extracurricular, the overscheduling that they go through," said Zimmitti.
The best move for parents is to get their kids, of any age, to open up.
"I think our first reaction as parents is to say, "Well don't worry, it's fine, there's nothing to be worried about." We don't really validate their feelings and that's really the first step in getting them to talk," she said.
Zimmitti said younger and older children can also benefit from adjusting their sleep schedule ahead of the start of school. Also, make an event of shopping and preparing for the new school year to make it fun. Reconnect children with friends they have not seen. Practice routines like the walk to the bus stop or a locker combination so kids know what to expect.
Parents may want to seek professional help if a child doesn't want to go to school, stops going to school or withdraws socially, to get deeper anxiety issues under control.