Studies show that as children get older, the pressure to drink, smoke and use other drugs continues to increase. So too does the availability of these substances. Once you add in causes for anxiety, students are at risk of turning to substances as a coping mechanism.

Back-to-school season is a time laden with worry for students heading into a whole new school year. While you cannot remove all of your child’s concerns, you can help to ease his anxieties.

Here’s how:

Explain to your child that it is normal to be nervous about a new school year.

  • Be realistic and optimistic when discussing academic expectations.
  • Help organize your child’s schedule.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in sports, clubs and other activities based on his/her interests, not based on what will please others.
  • Help build your child’s self-esteem with positive comments and encouragement. Remind your child that he is valued and that his feelings and thoughts matter.
  • When it comes to drinking, smoking or using other drugs, remind your child that he is capable of making decisions based on his morals and values and what is right for him, regardless of others’ decisions.
  • Reassure him that you are there to discuss anything that concerns him.