It’s that time of year again. Back to school! The first day of classes can certainly be exciting, but for some children and teens, now may be the time when new or preexisting school-related worries begin to surface.-
Sometimes, school anxiety can be easy to spot, like when a child refuses to attend or feels nervous before a test. However, anxiety in the classroom can also manifest in less obvious ways, such as disruptive or angry behavior, inattention and restlessness, or even an upset stomach. There are many reasons anxiety occurs, and it can happen at any age.
Here are 5 tips from the Child Mind Institute for recognizing school anxiety, and what may be causing it:
Inattention and Restlessness
When a student appears restless and to not be paying attention in class, he or she might actually be having a hard time focusing on the lesson due to worrying thoughts.
Some separation anxiety from family and home is understandable. However, when attending school remains very difficult or impossible for a child over a period of time, it is problematic.
If a child is upset or being picked on at school and doesn’t know how to manage negative feelings, the fight or flight response to protect his or her self can be triggered, resulting in disruptive behavior.
Frequent Trips to the Nurse
If a student is having unexplained headaches, nausea, stomachaches, or other physical complaints throughout the school day, those symptoms could actually be signs of anxiety.
Avoiding Socializing or Group Work
Sometimes kids and teens avoid activities due to fears of making a mistake or being judged. For example, giving presentations, gym class, eating in the cafeteria, and group projects.
There are several actions a parent or guardian can take to help their child cope with school-related anxiety. By having meaningful conversations, listening to concerns, acknowledging feelings, and asking questions, parents and/or guardians may be able to find the root cause of their child’s worries. They can also encourage activities and hobbies, which tend to instill confidence and aid in relaxation. Above all, parents/guardians should appear positive when discussing school.
Here are a few additional tips for students feeling anxious, and their families:
- Visit the school in the summer time if possible.
- Pack mementos for the school day.
- Talk to the school guidance counselor, social worker and/or school psychologist before or at the start of the year.
If you feel that your child or teen may need some help managing school anxiety, we at Nourish Your Mind are here for you and your young ones as well!
Gina Pellrine, LMSW