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How To Better Understand and Help Your Child's School Anxiety

Student with anxiety working on schoolwork

Imagine a typical morning for a child struggling with school anxiety. The alarm goes off, but instead of feeling excited for the day ahead, their stomach tightens with fear. They put off getting up for as long as possible, and even once they force themselves out of bed, they’re still looking for any reason to avoid attending.

In class, they struggle to concentrate. Their mind constantly races with worries about failing tests, being asked to answer a question out loud, or getting laughed at by their classmates. So they fidget in their seat, bite their nails, or “zone out” to avoid dealing with their reality.

By the end of the day, they return home emotionally and mentally exhausted, dreading the thought of repeating the process tomorrow.

Anxiety at school can be a crippling mental health issue that holds children back simply because they cannot function within the learning environment created in most public schools.

As parents and educators, understanding the signs of school anxiety and how we can prevent it from happening is crucial if we want to help produce confident, happy learners. At Lydian Academy, we’ve created a unique version of school for kids with anxiety that focuses on student-centered learning. Our one-on-one learning format eliminates the biggest triggers of anxiety at school while giving all learners a chance to thrive.

To help you gauge whether your child or student may benefit from this setup, we’ve created this guide to school anxiety, its symptoms, and everything you need to know to recognize and address it in the children under your care.

Why Is School So Stressful?

Looking at school from an adult’s perspective, it’s easy to scoff at the idea of being anxious or stressed over attending. But for kids, these seemingly minor issues can feel insurmountable.

The pressure to do well academically, to make friends, to navigate complex social dynamics, the fear of failure, and the lack of autonomy can all result in children experiencing one of many types of anxiety within the school environment.

To make it worse, many adults simply assume the symptoms of anxiety shown by kids in school are just them acting out or being “difficult,” when in reality the students have little to no control over the actions caused by their anxiety.

As such, learning to spot the symptoms of this condition is one of the key steps in understanding how to deal with school stress and anxiety.

The Signs and Symptoms of School Anxiety in Children

Student listening to a lesson in class

Anxiety is not always easy to identify, especially not in school-aged children who may not be able to describe or articulate what they are feeling and why they feel that way. This is partly due to the various types of anxiety experienced by children in school, and the differences in the way these types of anxiety disorders manifest.

  • Separation anxiety - The fear of being separated from their parents, guardians, or caregivers can result in children experiencing strong bouts of anxiety at drop-offs and throughout their day away from home.
  • Social anxiety - Excessive self-consciousness lies at the root of social anxiety making it difficult for them to participate in class, work in groups, or socialize with their peers. Social anxiety often leads to the student being isolated or ignored by their classmates, making attending school an even more difficult and dissatisfying experience.
  • Generalized anxiety - If a child suffers from generalized anxiety, they may feel anxious about a range of everyday things, especially when it comes to their performance at school.

Just like the types of anxiety, the symptoms of school anxiety can also vary greatly and include:

  • Inattention, restlessness, and ADHD-like symptoms - Squirming in their seats, fidgeting, and not paying attention could all be symptoms of anxiety in school kids. Often, parents and educators will punish or call out this kind of behavior, leading to the child experiencing even more anxiety.
  • Attendance problems and clinginess - To educators, it may look like a simple case of truancy, but anxiety in school kids can often lead them to refuse to go to or avoid school, especially if they’ve recently spent some time at home over the holidays or due to sickness.
  • Difficulty participating in class - Doing well on their tests and homework, but underperforming in class when asked to answer out loud or participate in group discussions is another strong indicator that a child may have school anxiety.
  • Avoiding socializing or group work - Isolating themselves from their peers during lunch or recess, and avoiding group activities can all point towards a child experiencing social anxiety in a school setting.
  • Panic attacks and extreme symptoms of anxiety - In some cases, school anxiety can be so overwhelming it leads to panic attacks and other extreme symptoms.

How To Deal with School Anxiety

Student with an anxiety doing one on one learning

Considering these signs and symptoms, there’s a good chance many parents reading this article have realized their child won't go to school because of anxiety or underperforms due to stress, and not some deep-rooted behavioral problem.

Should this be the case, the next step is looking for ways to rectify this matter and reduce the anxiety experienced by your child in school. Although there are many coping mechanisms to try, including attending therapy, relaxation techniques, and mantras, one of the best, sure-fire ways to beat school anxiety is through one-on-one learning.

One-on-one learning environments offer a personalized approach to teaching and cater to each child’s anxiety type, unique needs, strengths, and interests. By working alone with a teacher, students with social anxiety will feel calmer and more at ease, while those with generalized anxiety may find it easier to communicate their concerns and fears without worrying about being ridiculed.

The flexible pacing of one-on-one learning and personalized curriculum places the student at the center of the learning process and helps them feel heard, seen, and important.

These effects are extremely powerful in people with anxiety and can help students with anxiety at school overcome their fears in a safe, supportive environment.

At Lydian Academy, we offer students, parents, and teachers access to world-class one-on-one learning programs, where every student is allowed to reach their full potential and overcome the challenges they may have experienced in school before.

To learn more about how we can help your students or children find more joy in learning, contact our team today at (650) 321-0550.

We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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