It’s not uncommon for children to complain about having headaches, stomach-aches and other physical symptoms right before going to school or taking a test. Although some parents disregard this as their attempt to skip school, there might be an underlying cause of such behavior – anxiety. Not only can school-related anxiety make children feel uncomfortable in class, disruptive or even aggressive at times, but it can also impede their academic progress and achievement. Thus, it’s of the utmost importance that parents try to identify the main cause of their children’s school-related problems and help them overcome their anxiety.
Identifying anxiety in the classroom can be quite challenging because it can be misinterpreted as, for example, ADHD, learning disorder or angry behavior. In addition, classroom anxiety can be caused by numerous factors, which makes detecting it even more difficult. For example, some children, especially young ones, may experience separation anxiety caused by the separation from their parents. Social anxiety may also be a problem for some children. In such a case, they experience difficulties socializing in school and participating in class. Children may also worry about some everyday problems and their school performance in general, which is known as generalized anxiety. Depending on the specific type of anxiety, children may exhibit certain symptoms and behaviors. For example, they may refuse to go to school, be inattentive and keep fidgeting in class, use phones to stay in touch with their parents, be disruptive and aggressive, feel unable to communicate with others, and so on. All of this can significantly impede their ability to perform well in school, which can further deepen their problem. If they constantly experience failure in school, they will be discouraged and demotivated, which will consequently result in even worse school performance.
Test anxiety is a common problem among children, affecting their test performance and results. Children who suffer from this type of anxiety are typically worried about how they’ll perform. This can even cause physical symptoms, such as a headache, stomachache, dizziness, and nausea. Other symptoms may include anger, the feeling of helplessness, negative thinking, inability to concentrate, etc. Test anxiety may be caused by their fear of failure, especially if they haven’t performed well on previous tests. If a child suffers from another type of anxiety, as well, this can even worsen their test anxiety. In addition, if a child doesn’t prepare for an exam, this may also be a source of anxiousness. Even if they have studied, test anxiety may cause their mind to “go blank”, preventing them from remembering the correct answers.
The parents’ role
If you’ve recognized any of the aforementioned behaviors and problems in your child, they may experience some form of school-related anxiety. It’s important that you provide your child with enough support to help them overcome this problem. First, you should have a talk with your child to see what the main cause of their problem is. This will enable you to apply appropriate measures and steps to help them alleviate their anxiety. Here are several ways to achieve this:
Teach them breathing exercises
Teaching your child deep breathing techniques can help them calm down when they feel anxious. If your child suffers from test anxiety, they can start panicking during tests, which will make the situation even worse. You should teach your little one to take deep breaths in stressful situations because this will provide their brain with more oxygen and help them relax. They should breathe in, hold their breath for five seconds and then breathe out. After repeating the exercise, they will feel much calmer.
Help them prepare
Whether your child is studying for a test or for a classroom activity, you should help them prepare. Knowing that they’ve studied and are feeling confident in their knowledge can relieve a lot of stress and minimize their risk of performance anxiety. If your child’s anxiety prevents them from keeping up in class, you can find a way to help them stay up to date. For example, Australian students can access the Thinkswap online library and obtain study guides and notes created by other students. This way, they can keep up with their classes without stressing about whether they’ve missed something. You should find out whether there’s such an option in your area and help your child prepare for their class. They will feel more relaxed if they have a study resource.
Praise the effort
You need to keep your child motivated even when they “fail”. You should praise their effort when they don’t perform well and inspire them to keep trying. Boosting their self-esteem is also important, so make sure to find an activity that they love and are good at so that they know that they can achieve success.
School-related anxiety can be a major problem for a child, lowering their chances of academic success. Therefore, it’s important that you identify the problem early on and help them overcome it.