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Children and Anxiety In The School Setting

Whether its pressure to succeed or pressure by parents and peers, anxiety in the school setting can be troublesome to the student and educator. When a child is stressed, their ability to learn is compromised. Parents may become overwhelmed and the anxiety felt by the child becomes greater over time. It is important to understand anxiety and know how to help your child if they are impacted by the condition.

Many children experience anxiety during certain times during the school year. The beginning, transitional period, and back to school after breaks are common times your child may experience some level of anxiety. Worries are common, but other signs may result in the need for professional help.

Common Worries
Children and teens often worry about school-related issues, such as teachers, friends, and fitting-in. The most common worries include:

  • What if I don’t like my teacher?
  • What if my new teacher is mean?
  • Are my clothes good enough?
  • Who will sit by me at lunch?
  • What if I miss the school bus?
  • What if I am called on in class?
  • What if I have to read in front of the class?
  • Who will my friends be?

If your child is expressing any of the above questions, it is critical to address them in an encouraging manner. Do not allow your child to miss school because they are stressed or feeling anxious as avoidance only reinforces and increases fear over the long-term. Discuss the questions with your child and offer reassurance.

Tips to Relieve Anxiety
There are strategies parents may take in dealing with back-to-school worries and generalized school anxiety. The best tips include:
Look after your child’s basic needs. Your child is better equipped to handle school when they are not hungry or tired. Providing nutritious meals and proper bedtime rituals helps alleviate basic problems.

Problem-solve and plan.
Instead of only providing encouragement, offer ways the two of you may arrive at a solution. Work through problems together and your child will feel empowered.

Focus on the positive.
When you, as the parent, focus on the positive, your child will follow suit. Encourage your child to re-direct attention away from the worries and focus on something else. Offer your child something as simple as an afterschool snack to think about. They will draw their attention away from the worry and focus on something fun.

Teach and practice coping skills.
When your child is feeling anxious or nervous at school they need to be equipped on how to handle themselves. If you are unsure what to teach, ask the school counselor or your pediatrician for guidance. Calm breathing techniques or cognitive coping skills are beneficial in battling school-related anxiety.

Encourage a time for sharing.
Inquire, ask, and communicate. These are the best tools in prompting your child to open up and share what is contributing to anxiety. Before and after school, encourage and talk. Avoid bombarding your child with questions if they do not want to talk. Some parents gain all of the information they need to know during the car ride home, and then follow up later with assistance. Remember to be as good of a listener as you are a communicator.

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