Most children experience some form of school anxiety, regardless of their age. This causes a lot of stress, which affects both children and their parents. Another problem related to this type of anxiety is that it doesn’t always look the same. The symptoms range from headaches and stomach-aches to fierce defiance and can easily be mistaken and interpreted as signs of illness.
What actually happens is a physiological response from a brain that feels under threat. As those experiencing this phenomenon are young, they usually fail to recognize the real reason for such a feeling, which is why the role of parents is crucial in helping them overcome this problem. So, what can be done to help children cope with school anxiety successfully?
Identify the cause
In order to deal with any problem, we need to establish what caused it. Treating the cause and not just symptoms is the key. Making sure that anxiety isn’t from bullying or friendship problems is the first step in the process. If possible, talk to the teachers and see if they have an idea about why your child is behaving differently. If the teachers haven’t noticed anything and you believe there is no reason for the change in your child’s behavior, you’re probably dealing with anxiety.
Empower your child
Anxious people feel they have no control over the important aspects of their lives. Though this may be true in some cases, it really doesn’t have to be the case in every situation. Talk to your child and explain to them how anxiety works and what you think they’re going through. If they hear it from a person they trust, they are more likely to understand the concept and deal with it. Tell them that their brain sometimes gets a little overprotective (just like most parents), but that’s only because it wants the best for your child. The brain doesn’t differentiate between real and unreal threats. As soon as it interprets something as a threat, it reacts.
The school environment is different from home. Your child meets new people, does different things and engages in different routines. The brain has a tendency to interpret these changes as threats and it reacts accordingly. It’s important for your child to understand that such feelings are normal and that we all have them from time to time.
School anxiety is often associated with stressful events at school and the fact that your child might feel they’re underperforming. If you notice they are not getting the results they deserve, you need to react quickly. There might be a problem related to falling behind in class, in which case you should hire a tutor to help them or get hold of reliable study notes if you realize your child doesn’t have them. Your ultimate goal is to help them become an independent learner, but sometimes they need a bit more help.
Allow time for rest
School anxiety often results from being overwhelmed with the number of activities your child is involved in. Don’t forget that they won’t be able to perform well if they’re constantly rushing from one activity to another. Their body and their brain need some time to relax, recuperate and unwind and you need to make sure they get it. Sleep is probably the most important, but you should also see to it that your child has enough time to pursue an activity they really like and don’t feel stressed about. That should help them gain more confidence, which is crucial when it comes to overcoming anxiety.
Help them get organized
School anxiety is also very often a consequence of being disorganized. If a lot of time is wasted and your child is failing to meet deadlines and complete school-related tasks, you should step in and help them get organized. You might want to help them make a list of the things they need to do and make sure they do it before they leave home. They will soon realize that they can have many things under control, which will boost their confidence and, in turn, help alleviate anxiety.
The problem with school anxiety is that it affects not only children but their parents and whole family, too. Sometimes it appears without notice or a good reason and parents are those who need to help their children understand what is happening and how to overcome it. The tips above will make your child mentally stronger and more courageous and that will lead to academic success.