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What Are the Best Tips for Handling School Anxiety in Children?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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School anxiety in children is a common condition that may have many underlying causes. How a parent handles school anxiety can play an important role in managing or mitigating a child's fear about school. Some good tips for handling school anxiety in children include communicating with the child about the issues, providing a stable and safe home environment, and getting outside help in severe cases.

Communication is key to understanding the anxiety and fear a child is experiencing. Whether or not their worries seem warranted from an adult perspective, an anxious child may be experiencing great emotional and physical distress over their concerns. Consider asking the child what his worst fear about school is, or which problem seems the biggest. Listening to the child talk about their issues may be as important and as helpful as handing out advice.

It may be difficult for some children to communicate openly with their parents about their anxiety. For instance, some school anxiety in children is related to a fear of disappointing parents with bad grades. If a parent reacts defensively or dismissively when a child admits to being afraid of letting him or her down, the child may be unwilling to discuss the subject any further. Instead, try to focus on creating an environment where the child feels safe expressing his or her true feelings, without fear of reprisal. This may help him or her communicate concerns more openly and freely.

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Once a child feels safe having a dialogue about his or her anxiety, a parent may be able to help him or her develop strategies on ways to better handle the issues causing fear. If a smaller child is afraid of being bullied, consider getting him or her martial arts classes, or speaking to the teacher and principle about classmate bullies. If a teen is having difficulty adjusting to the workload of high school, try to develop a homework schedule and be on hand to provide assistance if necessary. Working on solutions to fight school anxiety in children as partners may help young people feel more empowered and capable in the situation; handing down orders, by contrast, may aggravate the problem and shut down open communication.

In some cases, school anxiety in children can become so severe that no amount of good parenting can fully manage the problem. If children begin skipping school, show signs of depression, or exhibit destructive behavior surrounding school issues, it may be important to get outside help. Reaching out to teachers or therapists may be helpful in situations where the child is debilitated or severely distressed by his or her anxiety. A family therapist can also be helpful when parents and children are having difficulty establishing a safe mode of communication; the simple fact that both the adult and the child must attend can make it seem less like a punishment or shameful experience, and more like a tool for moving forward.

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