Now that school has started, are you starting to ask yourself, “How can I help my child with school anxiety?”
There are many potential stressors for your child when it comes to school. They’re trying to juggle making you, their teachers and peers happy (no easy feat).
Back-to-school transitions aside, ongoing anxiety challenges are fairly prevalent in school-aged children. Amy Przeworski Ph.D. shares about this fact in her Psychology Today article entitled, “12 Tips to Reduce Your Child’s Stress and Anxiety.”
“Anxiety symptoms are common in children and adolescents, with 10-20% of school-aged children experiencing anxiety symptoms,” says Przeworski.
Now that school’s getting into full swing, here are some ways you can help your child reduce their stress levels and anxiety.
Continue to Help Your Child with Their Transition
A lot of focus gets placed on that first day of school and rightly so. However, transitioning back to school can take weeks and even months. Some children, for various reasons, never really adjust like they need to be successful.
If you can remember that your child’s transition is an ongoing process, it’ll allow you to be more patient and helpful with them.
Your child may need ongoing assistance with setting healthy sleeping and waking patterns, for instance. They also may need ongoing encouragement to implement a healthful diet and exercise.
If there are academic struggles, you can help your child with their assignments or hire a tutor if you’re too busy to assist them for the time being.
Provide Healthy Family Interactions and Stability at Home
If your child is experiencing school anxiety, they’re likely exhausted and feeling emotional. Your child does their best to hold things together while at school so they can come home and be in their “safe place.”
Ideally, home life should be an atmosphere that naturally decreases anxiety and stress instead of the opposite. This allows your child to go to school the next day with “recharged batteries.” All too often, that isn’t the case, causing children in this predicament to live in a constant state of stress.
If you suspect that your child is suffering from school anxiety, do your best to make things as stress-free as possible for your child.
Work at making your interactions free of negative emotions such as anger, blame or guilting. That will be difficult, however, if you as the parent are struggling with your own stressful life challenges.
If your child cannot find stability at home, it stands to reason that school will be an anxiety-ridden and uncertain experience.
There are many difficult life experiences that may prevent you, the parent, from providing needed stability for your child.
These could include your own personal struggles with other life transitions such as the loss of a loved one, relationship conflict, divorce, a new job or recent move to a new location.
Counseling can help you better cope with your own anxiety so you can help your child better with theirs. Your child is looking to you to learn how to deal with anxiety. If they don’t see you handling your own stress well, your child will conclude that there’s little hope for them to adequately handle their school anxiety.
Is Your Child Dealing with More than Transitional School Anxiety?
All of us handle life transitions differently. And some of us get past these obstacles more quickly than others.
You can communicate with your partner (if he or she is in the picture), your child and your child’s teachers if you worry that your child isn’t transitioning into their school year well enough. Doing so will help you to identify what struggles could be making things more difficult.
Some possibilities could be that your child is experiencing conflicts with teachers or peers, struggling to grasp the academic side of school or is having a mental or physical health setback.
Especially if your child’s transitional school anxiety is taking longer than you think it should to normalize, counseling may be a helpful option to consider as well.
You and your child can work with a therapist to find evidence-based ways that will help your child’s anxiety levels to decrease.
If you and your child eventually find that school becomes an ongoing struggle, the Valencia Relationship Institute can help. Feel free to schedule an appointment for the time that works best for you.