School is tough, and it is only getting harder. This is far too evident in the work that I do with clients here in Hope Hall. Often times, kids are brought to my office with concerns related to school. These concerns are frequently viewed through the lens of behavior concerns, defiance, or laziness. Although these explanations are certainly present in some of our school-aged youth, oftentimes the real culprit of a child’s issues at school is anxiety.
Anxiety in children can be difficult to detect, and it manifests in a number of different ways, especially at school. Frequently, anxiety in kids does not mirror how adults experience anxiety.
Here are some common ways anxiety manifests in school-aged children:
- Trouble answering questions in class
- Complaints of headache or nausea
- Avoiding social situations
With this in mind, there are a number of ways parents can assist their anxious child.
Build a good foundation: Ensure your child is getting enough sleep, is well fed, and is taking care of themselves. It's hard to cope when we are sleepy and hungry. Building in routines also creates predictability that often times eases kids feelings of stress.
Communication: Ask your child what is worrying them, listen without judgment, have empathy, and normalize their worry and concern. In this, their big anxious feelings become a little smaller and less scary. It’s important that your kids know you are with them and support them.
Problem solving vs reassurance:
Oftentimes, children will seek reassurance to reduce their worry. Instead, build their resilience through actively problem solving with them. For example, ask "what are some ways we can handle this?" Keep in mind to do this with empathy and compassion.
Pay attention to your behavior: Children take cues from their parents. Model positive coping skills, confidence, and problem solving when encountering stress in your own life.
to learn more about the work me and my colleagues do with YESS' Hope Hall Counseling program and how we can best support you and your family.