Does your kid cry every time she has to go to school? Are you feeling like you have hit the rock bottom and failed as a parent? While it’s normal for some children to be a little stressed on the first day, it should not become a daily routine.
Research by Georgetown University showed nearly 5.6 million kids are struggling with school anxiety. 4% of them are also battling depression. To understand the problem from the core, we have to dive deep into the subject.
Decoding School Anxiety
School anxiety aka school refusal means fear about going to school. When kids show an extreme amount of stress and worry every day right before school time, psychotherapists call it school anxiety. A tense child will do everything in their power to avoid attending classes.
Though psychologists don’t consider this a mental health issue, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, wrote in their 5th edition that school phobia falls under depression, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Parents or caregivers should take precautions early on. Otherwise, it will badly influence kids\’ social, emotional, and educational development. Plus if you keep your youngster away from school for a long time, they will find it difficult to cope with the classroom environment.
Reasons behind the anxiety
The exact reason for this phobia is not clear among Mental Health Professionals. For some kids, the worry could be associated with bully or racism. For others, it could be related to social anxiety or performance stress.
Sometimes children suffer from school anxiety if they spend long periods like a summer vacation at home. Further many parents reported the kids are refusing to go to school because they are feeling pressured about making new friends, adopting a certain way of learning, couldn’t fit in a famous school group, and being scared of the educators.
Children with ADHD, Dyslexia, and Autism might find the school environment exhausting. Occasionally, stressful family events such as the death of a close family member, moving to a new place, or financial stress in parents can trigger anxiety in kids.
Symptoms of school anxiety in kids
The symptoms of school refusal in kids are divided into three parts. These are physical, emotional, and behavioral. Read the pointers to know them in detail.
- The kid feels sick for no reason.
- Often complains about stomachache or headache.
- Sweat excessively at normal temperature.
- Faces difficulty in breathing.
- Their heartbeat increases rapidly.
- In severe cases, kids feel dizzy.
- Worries about little problems like carrying the right books.
- The kids get irritated and yell while you ask them about school.
- Cries consistently before and during school hours.
- They might seem down or sad.
- Frequently acts out.
- You struggle to wake them up and prepare them for school.
- The kid might face trouble sleeping at night.
- Often misses school and gives random excuses for it.
- Don’t do their homework properly.
- Faking to be sick to avoid school.
8 ways to reduce school anxiety in kids
The solution to this problem depends on the cause and stage of the anxiety. Here we have added 8 tips to handle the situation by yourself.
- Contact the school personnel: Only your kid and the school personnel know what goes in the classroom. Contact the staff and schedule an appointment. Before meeting the teacher, make sure you have noted down all the points behind the anxious behavior. Talk to the educator to find out their offerings to support the kid.
- Discuss school-related activities: Dr. David Rosenberg, pediatrician and founder of Pediatric Associates in Vineland shared, “Expose kids early to changes so they can adapt better during transitions. It\’s much easier for children who have been making gradual changes at young ages to go to school.” To make things easier for the children, you can send them to preschool. In case you are planning to directly enroll your kid in kindergarten, have small conversations about school-related things.
- Maintain a schedule: Having a proper timetable is essential for reducing stress. Allocate time for every task like packing their school bags, laying out clothes, etc. You can ask your little one to join you. That way they will feel prepared for the next day. Instead of stressing about getting your kid to school, create a small list of goals every morning which will eventually help achieve the bigger objective.
- Acknowledge their feelings: If they are sharing their worries about a new teacher or friend, don’t dismiss them by saying “it’s going to be fine.” Listen actively and help them make a strategy to deal with the situation. Sometimes kids might only want to be heard. During these situations, you must remain calm and validate their emotions. This will boost their self-esteem.
- Give them time to relax: Don’t overburden your kid with multiple activities. Encourage the little one to do things that takes away their stress. It could be dancing, reading story books, or painting. Find out what he or she likes the most and do that together.
- Ensure that they are having enough sleep: Sleep is an integral part of human life. Lack of sleep might worsen anxiety in kids. So check on them before going to bed.
- Praise them for achieving small milestones: It could be as simple as waking up at the right time or getting ready for school without any help. Recognize their small efforts and praise them for that. It will enhance their motivation level.
- Explain the day’s task in the morning: Let the kid know everything about the day\’s plan. This involves telling them about who is going to take him to school and who is going to pick him up, what they will eat after coming back, activities that they participate in, etc.
If you have tried everything and still not working, it’s best to take help from a professional. All these tips will help you reduce school phobia in kids. Apply them every day to see the results.