New classmates, new teachers, new classes—going back to school
can be nerve-wracking enough for kids and adults alike, even when everything is running as smoothly as possible. But throw mental health concerns, such as ADD/ADHD or anxiety, into the mix, and returning to school can be even more stressful than usual. And what if you also have issues with ADD/ADHD? That, too, can greatly impact your ability to help and can leave you feeling frustrated, anxious, or defeated.
To make matters more complicated, ADD/ADHD and anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways—for example, did you know there are actually 7 types of ADD
and 7 types of anxiety and depression
, each with its own range of symptoms and telltale characteristics? Or that anxiety affects nearly 1 in 3 teens from ages 13 to 18, and is seen even more commonly in people with ADD/ADHD than in the general population?
Yes, it’s a lot for anyone to wrap their head around, but there are simple strategies to help your school-age kids who have ADD/ADHD or anxiety, whether or not they are challenges you also personally face. Here are some ideas to help them (and yourself) make a smooth transition to the school year.
The Effects and Surprising Benefits of ADD/ADHD and Anxiety
The effects of ADD/ADHD can be far-reaching—inside and outside of school. Many core ADD/ADHD symptoms can make schoolwork or class time more difficult, including lack of organization, distraction, procrastination, and problems with follow-through and completing tasks. If your teen
is affected, he or she may even be susceptible to greater dangers
during the commute as a new driver, due to typical characteristics that accompany this condition, such as risk taking behavior, problems maintaining focus, and a shorter attention span. And though 1 in 8 children has anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
, 80% of children with an anxiety disorder are not receiving treatment for it.
But there are upsides, too. While many people are familiar with ADD/ADHD-related limitations, it can be easy to overlook the advantages
associated with the condition: heightened creativity and curiosity, a willingness to try new things and be spontaneous, and the ability to hyperfocus on subjects that are interesting to them. Similarly, anxiety can offer a surprising variety of positives, like greater resilience, empathy, motivation, and leadership. All of these can be great skills in school, as long as they are nurtured, while limitations are better understood and respected.
Helping Kids with School When You Have ADD/ADHD Yourself
As 9.4% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 have ADD/ADHD diagnoses—which also can co-occur with learning disorders—academic progress can feel like an uphill battle. And if you have ADD/ADHD yourself, sometimes you may feel unsure about how to help your kids do their best in school. While every kid can struggle with basics like homework
, it can feel like a double whammy of difficulty when both you and your child share symptoms like lack of focus and distractibility. And, because this runs in families, according to the Child Mind Institute
, 25% of the parents of kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD also have the condition.
First of all, seeking ways to optimize your own brain will give you a better opportunity to help your child. This might entail:
- Nutritional supplements that include rhodiola, green tea extract, and ashwagandha to support focus and attention (such as BrainMD’s Focus & Energy)
- Therapies like neurofeedback
Then use recommended strategies for learning with ADD/ADHD, such as:
- breaking up bigger projects into smaller chunks
- taking frequent breaks
- using organizational helpers like planners and calendars
- setting up non-distracting learning spaces at home
These steps will help both you and your kids stay on-task.
Working With Kids’ ADHD or Anxiety When You Don’t Have It Yourself
On the other hand, if you do not personally exhibit symptoms of anxiety or ADD/ADHD, you may have less understanding around how to help your kids with their unique problems at school. While it’s a great idea to meet with your child’s teachers to exchange ideas about how to optimize his or her learning, you can also take advantage of research and advice from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, which offers up resources for parents who have children with ADD/ADHD. For example, setting up a positive home learning environment, making time for physical activity, and ensuring restful nights of sleep
can all help these students perform better.
For kids struggling with anxiety, there are several nutritional changes
that can help counteract symptoms, so try to create balanced breakfasts
, pack healthy lunches
, and arrange bonding-time family dinners
for optimal well-being overall. This gets everyone off on the right foot.
Then, since one way this issue can manifest is through social anxiety
, your child may be experiencing extra stress
due to facing new situations or people (as occurs with a new school year). Sharing simple strategies, like practicing gratitude, exercising self-compassion, being OK with getting vulnerable
, and taking small steps—like talking to just one other student in class—can help your kids make a smoother transition and set themselves up for a successful year ahead.
Brain SPECT imaging can help determine which type of ADD/ADHD or anxiety you or your child have. To receive 8% off a FULL or PARTIAL evaluation with Amen Clinics, use code TASCAN8. To book directly or for more information, please call Amen Clinics at 888-288-9834.