Dealing with the stress of heading back to school

A look at the stresses of heading back to school

CHARLOTTE, N.C .-- The cheerleaders at Holy Trinity Middle School are loud and proud. They're focused and having fun as they get ready for their team's football season. But behind all the smiles, there is also a bit of nervousness.

"My stomach always feels sick the first day of school," says Moorea Patcha, an eighth grader at the Catholic school off Park Road.

That's a normal feeling, says psychologist Desaree Festa, from Southeast Psych.

"When people start or have a change in their life, nerves are normal," said Festa.

The big fear students face today: Image Management. Festa explains the latest buzz words parents should understand.

"This is huge, especially for adolescent age kids. How will my peers see me? What's my image that I'll give off to other kids around me," she says.

Festa says Image Management is tied closely to social media. Every day teenagers are deciding how they want the world to view them, what they want their image to be. As they start the school year, many young people are also deciding how they want to be perceived the coming year.

"Many of my clients now ask, 'Who do I want to be next year?'"

Festa says parents should talk to their kids now, before school starts. Encourage them to try new things this school year, and understand that simple things, like wearing a cool pair of shoes or new shirt, are important to many teens.

"You don't want to break the band doing it, but those are the things that kids are concerned about," she says.

"What I'll wear on the first day of school, how I'll be perceived on social media and the internet, who will I be friends with," is all on students' minds as they approach the next school year, says Festa. Also on their minds: can they handle the workload and how much homework will they have, she says.

To help kids transition smoothly Festa recommends parents "get them busy now. Don't wait till the start of school to ramp up their schedules. Start adjusting sleep, their eating schedule and get them to do work," she sassy.


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