School is a very important space for kids and teenagers as they spend a large chunk of their daily time there, whether it’s in person or online. At school, young people are provided opportunities to experience new things, build social connections, feel a sense of accomplishment, and take on responsibilities. Despite all the positives, it’s normal for kids to feel worried about school sometimes. For some children, however, school can feel challenging and stressful for them ALL of the time – to the point where they really do not want to go to school. This is called school anxiety. If your child is struggling with school anxiety, it is important to get additional support early.
Why does school anxiety happen?
There are all sorts of reasons why a child may struggle with anxiety or worry about school. Here are some examples:
- They may feel immense pressure to get good grades on their homework assignments or ace their upcoming exams.
- Kids may also worry about making friends, being liked and “fitting in.”
- Being bullied (read more)
- Struggles with self-esteem
- Other social difficulties (e.g. having a crush, being in a fight with their BFF)
What are some of the signs?
Has your child suddenly refused to go to school or do their schoolwork? This might be a sign of school anxiety. Other signs include your kid not wanting to get ready in the morning, expressing worry often, experiencing changes in mood (e.g., feeling depressed, more withdrawn), or complaining about stomach aches or headaches.
What can I do?
If you notice that your child might be struggling with anxiety surrounding school, here’s what you can do to support them.
- Provide space for them to talk about what’s worrying them. Let them know you are there for them to talk and problem-solve to improve the situation.
- Connect with an adult at the school, such as a teacher or coach to brainstorm different ways to support your child and to make a plan together.
- Create a structured daily routine, such as a morning routine, homework time, scheduled extracurriculars, and a bedtime routine. This creates a sense of consistency and security in your kid’s life. Remember, the “security of structure” is the antidote for “anxiety for uncertainty”.
- If your child’s anxiety continues, consider counseling in the school setting with a school counselor or with a therapist outside of school, a full family approach like Manatee would be ideal.
- Collaborate with your child to determine what coping strategies they could use when they are feeling worried or stressed about school. Think about what their hobbies are, such as drawing, listening to music, or sports and incorporate them into their coping strategies.
Manatee is a virtual mental health clinic for families. If you are seeking more guidance on how to help your kid with school anxiety and bring ease and fulfillment to parenting, book a free 20-minute consultation with an expert here.