Does your child or teenager have anxiety about going to school? Our Motto “Don’t let stress, anxiety and negative thinking stand in your way! Achieve your #success identity -CBT & Mind Yoga program to think and feel like a winner!” –
If your child or teenager is experiencing anxiety around going to school they are not alone. It is estimated by the Nations Institute of Mental Health that 25% of children between the ages of 11 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder and about 6% of children and adolescents will suffer from a severe anxiety disorder. Anxiety in children and teenage anxiety can show up in different types but the most common are school refusal in school-aged children from age 5 to about age 11 and social anxiety that looks likes social shyness and disinterest in teenagers.
Why does this anxiety develop in your child? Usually anxiety for kids develops around times of transitions such as a new middle school, a new high school, a drastic change in the family structure or recent medical diagnosis. Anxiety usually develops because there is some uncertainty that is making the child or teenager feel uncomfortable and the child/teenager does not know how to deal or cope with it. This uncomfortable feeling makes kids want to avoid or escape situations that bring up those feelings. Sometimes these symptoms of anxiety can mean something deeper going on such a depression, being bullied or learning problems. Children and teenagers experiencing high anxiety and related behaviors should be taken to a mental health professional for an evaluation.
But beyond getting professional mental health help parents can help relieve some of their child’s anxiety and stress around school just by talking to their child and helping them understand what is happening.
“Often children and teenagers don’t know how to thinking about what they are feeling.”-
This impacts your child’s ability to not only express what they are feeling but also prevents them from actively problem solving. As a result they default between two options: either I do it and face my fears or I avoid the situation and feel safe. When this happens most of the time your child will shut down and just keep avoiding the situation that makes them anxious.
Here are 5 quick tips to begin talking to your child or teenager about anxiety and to accept there are ways of building mastery and reducing nervousness.
1.Rapport: Start by asking about the basic behaviors and happenings at school to get them talking. Don’t ask “How was school?” instead ask “What was your class schedule like today? Who did you spend time with?” Listen for clues as to reasons why they are anxious.
2. Label emotions and try to understand what they are feeling. ”It sounds like you are feeling anxious when the teacher calls on you “; “I’m guessing you felt nervous sitting by yourself at lunch?” If the child says “no but …”just listen to what your child/teenager says and try to understand what they are saying from their perspective by asking “Can you tell me more about that? I am trying to understand this better.”
3. Thinking alike: Use what professionals call “tactile empathy” to help your child/teenager feel normal, safe and then negotiate a change in their behavior. “I can understand that being called on when you might not know the answer can feel a little nervous I bet you would like to feel calmer at those times”, “I can understand how not knowing anyone to sit with can be anxiety provoking it would be nice to have someone to sit with.”
4. Behavior Changes: Then negotiate a change in behavior by generating some ideas.” What are some ideas how you can find someone to sit with? What did you do in your last school when you were unsure of the answer?
5. Shape the behavior-. Encourage consistent “chunks of actions” that build upon one another and move your child towards their overall goal.
CBT therapy tip: This will help your child to learn how to accept that they don’t have to go full speed ahead in order to be successful. Let them recognize that it’s okay to go piece by piece and break the behaviors down into small actions. This is what’s known by professional psychologists as “mastery building”. This helps to build skill mastery, inner confidence and overall reduce uncomfortable feelings around something your child is not familiar doing. For example, if your child has anxiety in the morning and wants to stay home from school, then instead of avoiding the school building entirely, walk to the school, stay outside for at least a period then either go home or have them go in late. If your child has issues with being called on in class speak with the teacher and have the child promise to volunteer daily answers to questions they are sure of to build confidence over speaking up. Eventually they will want to take on the next challenge!
For more information of treatments for child anxiety or adolescent anxiety using cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness yoga with Clinical Health Psychologist, Dr. Jayme Albin, Ph.D. Dr. Jayme is also a certified Yoga Instructor, an expert in Cognitive Behavioral therapy for anxiety and Biofeedback therapy and Virtual reality therapy for Phobias. She is also certified in EMDR therapy for anxiety and stress related trauma. For more information on our anxiety, phobia, work, school stress relief programs or trauma related programs contact us today firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-631-1133