When your child is dealing with school anxiety, it can be a heartwrenching experience. As a parent, you want your child to thrive at school, so hearing that your child is struggling can leave you feeling unsure of what to do next. School anxiety can manifest differently in every child, meaning the symptoms don’t always look the same. Sometimes it appears to be an illness, while the child may have tantrums in other cases. Therapy makes it possible to help your child work through his or her emotions and to feel more comfortable at school. Here’s how our team at Life Insight works with you to empower your child and minimize school anxiety.
There are many reasons a child may be anxious about school—and they have nothing to do with poor parenting. Before you listen to unwarranted advice to be “tougher” on your child, remember that your child is under significant stress. Anxiety is caused by fear, and it doesn’t matter whether or not the danger is real or imagined. Kids often know that there isn’t anything to be afraid of, but everyday school situations are perceived as dangerous or threatening nonetheless.
When the flight-or-flight response is activated, a surge of neurochemicals is released to prepare a person to either confront a threat or flee from it. In children, this presents as a tantrum (fight) or resistance to going to school (flight). It’s difficult enough to try and manage your own anxiety when you’re on high alert, much less someone else’s. We are all wired to protect ourselves: this instinctive drive can be nearly impossible to control once activated, and children tend to lack the skills to manage their anxiety on their own. Understanding the reason behind your child’s anxiety is only the first step: parents need to work with a licensed therapist to help their child feel empowered.
Active listening means that you are fully concentrated on what your child is saying. Remove all distractions and give your child the space to share what they want to tell you. Doing so, and responding in kind, will help your child feel valued and supported. They will feel encouraged to turn to you again in the future.
Anxiety is tough for anyone to manage—and that’s especially true for children, who rely on the adults in their lives for guidance. Help your child recognize their strengths, the people they can turn to for support and the positives of going to school. Validating your child’s worries while also showing how brave they are can increase your child’s self-confidence.
Organizing everything that needs to be prepared for the school day can ease anxiety in the morning. Make sure your child eats breakfast, packs their backpack, brushes their teeth and completes their homework. Proper sleep, nutrition and setting aside time for enjoyable activities can help your child feel as though things are under control.
School anxiety can be tough to manage. Life Insight believes that empowering your child will instill the courage they need to thrive. Speak to our therapists today to learn how you and your child can manage school anxiety together.