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School Anxiety: How to Help a Child with Anxiety about School

School Anxiety

Many parents have difficulty sending their children back to school after summer. Some children seem to have all the reasons in the world not to go to their class. And these parents start to sense a pattern of illnesses and misbehavior which may force them to keep their children from going to school. If you have a similar experience, then your child might be having school anxiety.

And while this form of anxiety is common among young children and even high school kids, parents need to know how to handle this problem and help their children continue to learn at school and progress in their academics and social life, and have more opportunities to develop their talents and skills.

School Anxiety: How to Help Students with Anxiety in School

Causes of School Anxiety

School-age children may be subjected to several factors that interfere with their learning process. Anxiety in school may come from several angles and we should understand what these are. This can be categorized into three main sections: environment, academic and social stressors.

To be on top of our children’s proper physical, emotional as well as psychological development should be our primary concern. As parents, we can be so compounded with several other issues that at times, we fail to look into what is happening in their daily lives.

This is common when the child reaches school age. We think that since they have gained some degree of independence that they can already be left alone and are responsible for their own well-being.

We are very wrong in this area. Here are some of the sources of stress in school that are often neglected:
  • Over-scheduling – for some reason, modern-day society has created a whole new pattern that school-age children should fill up their free time with all kinds of extra-curricular activities. In fact, some schools’ standards for ranking students look into the many activities that the child can juggle together with his academic schedule. This leaves the child tired, preoccupied, and sometimes, overwhelmed.
  • Teachers – there is such a thing as a teacher-student mismatch. If the student’s learning style is not matching the teacher’s way of teaching, this might result in disagreement. And even if the child is intelligent, his learning capacity is limited by the teacher’s manner of teaching.
  • Bullies – good news for all parents out there. Schools have become more involved in the lives of our children outside the classroom. Although it is not a 100% guarantee that our children will be free from becoming prey to this kind of predator, we can at least have a certain degree of peace of mind knowing that there are “police” on the school grounds watching over the welfare of our kids.
  • Exams – from time immemorial, children have suffered from what is known as test anxiety. Even though they know that they studied and prepared for the exam, they still have these butterflies in their stomach before, during, and after the test.
  • Sleep deprivation – some students are so overworked both in their academics and extra-curricular activities that they lack sleep. It’s as if their day is not enough to accomplish all the tasks given to them. They extend up to wee hours in the morning just to finish homework or a project. The next day, they will come to school tired and lacking sleep faced with an equal amount of tasks to do.
  • Trauma: Students may have experienced a traumatic event in the past, such as abuse or a natural disaster, that is making them afraid to go to school.
The problem of bullying has been around for decades and has been the primary reason why kids develop phobias at school. Another is peer pressure. This also severely affects young minds. Rude remarks from classmates, rejections, inability to find a group of friends, and a feeling of mistrust, these and many others can put a lot of stress on your child.

Teachers with partial treatment of their students can negatively impact children’s experience at school too. When a teacher displays biased treatment among her students it will leave negative feelings toward other kids inside the room who don’t get the same attention. Unfortunately, this may not only create a negative feelings but also doubts about their personal abilities.

How to Help a Child with Anxiety about School

While the causes of school anxiety can’t be avoided totally, there are some things you can do as a parent to help your child deal with anxiety about school:
  • Talk to your child. Experts will tell you that giving enough time to talk to your child and being attentive to her needs can already free her from the stress she finds at school. Be willing to let her know your sympathy for her and that you are prepared to help her solve her concerns at school.
  • Encourage your child to find friends at school. For most children having a friend at school will solve almost everything. They will have someone to talk to within their level and someone whom they can share their feelings with. Offer her a few words of encouragement to find someone at school or in her classroom that she can turn to whenever you’re not around.
  • Don’t give in to your child’s school refusal problems. Don’t forget that it is always a better option to do everything that you can to get her to school every day. Letting her stay at home will only reinforce her school anxiety problems. You have to be firm about schooling. This will add authenticity to your words that school really is essential for her.
Although at one look there seems to be nothing that we can do to help it, looking into the overall effect on our child is the first step towards redeeming them from this social slave.

Important: If the student's anxiety is severe or persistent, you must seek the help of a therapist or counselor, or psychiatrist who can provide specialized support, guidance, and treatment.

To motivate students who are afraid to go to school, it is important to understand the root cause of their fear and address it directly. Some strategies that may be helpful include:
  • Building a positive relationship with the student: Creating a positive and supportive relationship with the student can help them feel more comfortable and willing to open up about their fears.
  • Encouraging open and honest communication: Encourage the student to talk about their fears and concerns and listen actively to them.
  • Providing support and resources: Depending on the cause of the student's fear, providing support and resources such as counseling, tutoring, or bullying prevention programs may be helpful.
  • Helping the student set realistic and achievable goals: Help the student to set goals that are realistic and achievable and encourage them to take small steps towards achieving them.
  • Creating a positive and supportive classroom environment: Creating a positive and supportive classroom environment can help students feel more comfortable and willing to participate in class.
It's worth noting that motivating students to go to school can be a complex and ongoing process, it's important to work closely with the student, their family, and other professionals (such as school counselors, psychologists, or social workers) to understand the student's needs and provide appropriate support.

  See also: Anxiety in Children

Back-to-school - stress and anxiety relief

With school starting now, many families are beginning to feel more and more stress in their lives. Both children and parents will be finding themselves experiencing added stress with busier schedules, “first-day jitters”, increased demands on their time, and feeling pressured to meet social demands.

While these feelings are perfectly natural for both children and parents, it is important to make sure we are keeping our stress levels in check and not letting stress end up making us sick. We need to listen to our bodies for clues that stress is affecting our health. There are a number of things we can do to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Sleep well - Your mind and body need time to rest and rejuvenate. Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important factors in keeping yourself healthy. Most adults require between 6 and 9 hours each night. Everyone is different, though. Over time you will find out what is the right amount for you.
  • Eat right - Your body and mind need a balanced diet. Fruit, vegetables, and protein are the most important. Avoid caffeine, sugar, and excess carbohydrates.
  • Exercise - It is very important to purge your body of the excess residual chemicals that stress creates in your body. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity will do wonders. Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or any other activity you enjoy.
  • Relax - You need to incorporate breaks into your day when you can relax. Even just a few minutes of deep breathing, listening to soothing music or a quick walk will do the trick. Yoga, meditation, and massage therapy are also great for relaxation.
  • Me Time - The busier you are the more crucial it is for you to work in some time just for you each day. 15 to 30 minutes a day of doing something you enjoy, whether it is a hobby, chatting with a friend, or going for a walk.
  • Say No - A lot of us tend to think we need to be super-mom or super-dad, taking on way too many responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to say No! Many a time you need to set boundaries and stick to them.

Conclusion

School anxiety is a common issue among children and can greatly impact their academic and social success. However, there are ways to help a child with anxiety about school. It is important to understand the root cause of the anxiety, whether it be related to academic performance, social interactions, or other factors.

Parents and caregivers can then implement strategies such as creating a positive and supportive home environment, encouraging open communication, and seeking professional help if needed.

With the right support and guidance, a child with school anxiety can learn to manage their feelings and achieve their full potential in school.

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