Changes are hard for kids of all ages. After summer break, many of them may have a difficult time transitioning back into a school routine. An increasing number of students exhibit school anxiety. When this happens they may display behaviors, get physically sick, or be unable to work within a classroom setting. Studies show that approximately ten percent of children have been diagnosed with anxiety, but more may not know it.
How to Spot Potential Anxiety
Being nervous about the new school year is normal. What is not is okay is being so overwhelmed by your feelings that you are unable to function within the school day. While older students may be able to recognize their own feelings, this is not always the case with younger kids. The problem is that the longer this goes on, the less likely kids will be able to learn in a classroom setting. Teachers may see behaviors in class, kids may not be motivated at home to work on tasks, and overall changes seen.
Counselors, teachers, and other therapists need to look for symptoms which may visible to them within the school setting. Some kids may not be able to focus on any classwork. They may have decreased motivation to complete tasks, inability to work with others, and frequent time away from school may be apparent. Headaches and stomach aches may be prevalent along with an overall depressed state. All of these things should be noted, especially if it’s a drastic or sudden change in the child.
Simply Saying it Will be Alright is Not Enough
If a child tells someone that they are anxious about school, you cannot tell them it will be okay. This can lead to them feeling worse about themselves if things get worse and their worries and fears continue. It’s important to take time to discuss the child’s fear, let them know it’s perfectly normal, and to be proactive. Sometimes just having a trusted adult to talk to will be enough, but other times more will be needed.
Kids need to know that there is nothing wrong with them. Talking about their feelings will help them over time, especially if they are in a no judgment zone. If these feelings progress further, they can lead to more complex issues. As kids get older and enter the teen years their anxiety may lead to depression, self-doubt, and other negative identity issues. These students may need therapy above and beyond. While the school cannot give a diagnosis, meetings may take place with those from home to talk about concerns. Resources may be given to them to try to get their child additional help to relieve their growing anxiety.
How does your building address school anxiety and make sure that students do not feel like they are alone? Please share in the comments what has worked well and let us know grade levels.