It is not unusual for the thought of going to school to instill anxiety in certain children. There are various reasons why they feel this anxiety and many ways of helping children who are afflicted with this problem. There is even a disorder called school refusal anxiety, which is a term applied to children who consistently find reasons why they don’t want to go to school. Learn about School Anxiety.
Symptoms of School Anxiety
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has defined the symptoms of school anxiety disorder. Physical symptoms include:
Other symptoms that one may notice in a child suffering from school anxiety are defiance, temper tantrums, seapration anxiety, avoidance and a general inflexibility in personality.
Reasons For School Anxiety
There are many reasons why a child may suffer from this type of anxiety, including moving to a new town and enrolling at a new school. Some children are afraid to go to school because they fear that something will happen to their parents while they are away from them. Other reasons include a general fear of school or a fear that someone might harm them while they are at school.
Not wanting to go to school due to anxiety is something that is found in anywhere from 2-5% of children who are of the right age to attend school. This type of anxiety often starts when a student is either five or six years old or even 10 to 11 years old. These are the ages where children are most vulnerable to feeling anxiety at the thought of going to school. The anxiety can also be felt when a child is beginning junior high school or high school.
Ironically many students who feel anxious about going to school are those with higher levels of intelligence than their peers. These students often have trouble relating to their classmates and this may be one reason why they experience anxiety in school.
First Day Of School Anxiety
For most children their first day of school is when they start preschool. This is the first time they are separated from their parents and this is very hard on some children. Education.com says that the first several weeks of preschool are usually the hardest on children as they begin to experience separation anxiety when some of them may never have before. This is around the age where children are starting to learn to be independant. While this is usually exciting for children it can be scary for them also.
Parents can help ease the anxiety at school by remaining calm when taking the child to school and picking them up. Children notice when their parents are anxious and this anxiety often transfers from parent to child, so the more relaxed a parent is about their child going to school the more relaxed the child will be about it also. The worst thing a parent can do is take a child who seems to feel no anxiety about starting school and make them feel it by putting the idea in their head. Therefore, this should be avoided at all costs.
The specific preschool a parent sends their child to can have a lot to do with how the child feels about going there. The best preschool is one in which the environment will make the child excited, rather than anxious, about going to school.
School Anxiety In Children
When children are starting school for the first time it is always a good idea for parents to take certain precautions before their child starts. The first step is for parents to meet with their child’s teacher prior to the beginning of the school year. This often be done at a back to school night and, if possible, the child should go with the parent to meet their new teacher. Children starting elementary school often have an easier time transitioning if parents arrange a play date between their child and his or her new classmates. This gives the children a chance to start to become comfortable around each other before the first day of school.
Taking children on a tour of their new school is also a way to help lesson their anxiety school. Parents should be sure to point out important places within the school, such as the restrooms and the nurse’s office.
Another way to help children feel less anxious about school is for parents to drive their child to the school using the same route the school bus will take. This way when a child is on the bus without a parent he or she will know where they are going and when to get off the bus. This can ease a great deal of anxiety about school.
Starting middle school (a.k.a. junior high school) can also be an anxiety inducing experience for some children. This is a huge transition in a child’s life and some handle it better than others. The experts at Childmind.org recommend taking certain steps to help reduce the anxiety.
Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about any concern the child might have about starting middle school, including being picked on by the older students. Talking it out can often ease the anxiety children feel prior to starting middle school. Giving children a realistic idea of what middle school is like can go a long way in helping them feel more comfortable attending.
Anxiety In High School Students
High school anxiety is not at all uncommon among students. Usually by the time they begin this phase of their education they have better learned how to deal with school anxiety. At this point it is possible that students may only feel back to school anxiety for the first few days or weeks until they adjust. However, social anxiety high school is a big problem for some students.
Wholefamily.com recommends practicing certain behaviors when beginning high school in order to help reduce the level an anxiety a student feels. Students who appraoch their peers without waiting to be approached often have an easier time socially than those who don’t. The ones that are the most comfortable around their peers tend to take the first step in meeting people and take the time to carefully choose who their friends are. Students are encouraged to take advanatge of class time to get to know their fellow students as they work on projects and participate in discussions together. The strongest students know that the more confident they feel the more others will see them as confident and the less anxiety they will experience.
Social Anxiety In School
At any age, children can start to become anxious in school. The Calm Clinic has identified a few ways students feel anxiety in the classroom. Anytime a student is involved in a classroom setting they are expected to participate socially. For some students this is a problem they struggle with throughout their education. While there are many social situations where one can excuse themselves if they become anxiously this is almost never the case in a classroom. A student whose anxiety overwhelms them in the classroom may get behind on their school work and their grades may suffer for it.
Even something as simple as the seating arrangements in a classroom can cause anxiety for some students. When students get to pick their own seat the ones who are feeling anxiety often choose a seat in the back of the classroom because they don’t wan attention from their fellow students or their teacher.
Participation in class discussions as well as test and quiz performance can also be affected negatively by anxiety. Students who are already feeling anxious likely don’t want to take a chance on participating in class for fear they may say something wrong. When taking a test or quiz a student who is anxious will often spend more time trying to quell their fear of failing than to work on actually passing.
Another event that causes anxiety in some students is having to speak to their teacher. They become afraid that if they speak to their teacher in private they will get criticized for their actions in the classroom or the quality of the work they turn in. Students suffering from anxiety also worry that their teacher will privately ask them questions they don’t have the answers to and that this will get them in trouble.
Treating Anxiety In School
Since anxiety and school go hand in hand so often there has been much discussion of the ways in which the anxiety can be treated. These methods include talking to a professional to seek help managing a student’s anxiety, joining an after school activity or club and preparing for events such as presentations and school projects in advance. Each of these treatment methods can be used indivudually or together to help ease the stress and anxiety many students feel about attending school. This type of anxiety can almost always be overcome if the right steps are taken.