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Parenting: helping kids with social anxiety as school gets back in session

Acadiana mom shares struggle with child's social anxiety
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 08:20:10-04

Layla Briolo is the mother of 9-year-old Luke.

Luke, like every other child in Acadiana, has spent the last five months at home.

His interaction with other kids was limited.

"He needs to pick up on behaviors and what's acceptable and not acceptable," Briolo said. "He's still learning that. It's important for him to be around other children and model other children."

Briolo said, being his mom, she tends to be flexible when Luke wants his way. She knows that once he heads back into the classroom, that flexibility with others will not happen.

"Children in their peer group might not do that," Briolo said. "They need to learn to navigate that and be able to become aware of what they need to do and gauge situations like that."

To help Luke have a better start to the school year, Briolo started to prepare him for the changes that are ahead.

That is something Dr. Derek Baumbouree, pediatrician with Our Lady of Lourdes and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said is a must.

"Sometimes they have to be eased into it," Dr. Baumbouree said. "Some suggestions, when they wake up, is not asking how they feel? Try to avoid that in morning. Get them on a routine, get them dressed, breakfast, teethed brushed, get them in the car or bus, and get them to school."

Baumbouree said about five percent of kids deal with school avoidance or school phobia. He said kids have issues that they cannot even explain, so it may be better to ease them in even slower.

He suggested that parents take two or three days to show kids the school, let them stay half a day, and then finally let them stay all day long.

As for Briolo, she said this year will be a challenge, but it is one she is prepared to handle.