An anxious child needs to build on their confidence and know that someone is there for them – that they are supported and loved.
“I will hold your hand forever and never let go”
When you first notice that your child is experiencing school anxiety set aside some time to listen and just be there for them. See if they will open up and chat about it. It may even be that they are more comfortable texting you. Try some prompting questions:
Is there anything they enjoy at school?
you’ll get to play sport today
Are there friends at school?
I bet Sophie will be excited to see you
Do they have any idea what they’ll do after school?
you might need to do some more learning to become a police officer
Change their way of thinking or worry that they have and reframe it.
Imagine how happy you feel when you finish school and have your police uniform on
Ask them to picture that!
Provide the reassurance that you’re always there for them and thinking about them even when they can’t see you.
Let’s just try. Often they just need to get over a bump and do it, then they feel fine!!
You can explain to them all the support that is available for them and that you could be there too –
- admin staff
- guidance officer
- head of the year
- deputy or principal
- support teachers
There may be someone they already feel comfortable with and have built a trusting relationship with. Then there’s the:
- sports coach
- an older child
- older family or friends who they respect and trust
Remain as calm as you can and put in place baby steps. What will help the morning run smoother? You want to take as much stress away as possible –
- school clothes laid out
- lunch made
- bag packed
Then you can also have aids, such as –
- diffuser with essential oils (even some oils on the day on the back of their neck or wrist can be calming)
- a good sleep
- shower or bath before bed
- aiming for that big picture goal
If you can provide encouragement the process can be smoother – reassurance is big for the anxious. A few nice deep breaths, a reminder that they have achieved before and they can do it again, as well as letting them know how proud you are of them.
Let them know the steps involved (discuss this with school too). Lay it all out so you can alleviate the ‘unknown’. Roll with that ‘let’s try attitude’. Perhaps the old – what’s the worse thing that can happen?? Depending on your child go crazy with this projection – ridiculous and funny scenarios. Having a note in their pocket may provide the security to make that next step. My daughter’s school use a time out card. They use this to show it to the teacher to be excused. Majority of the time that’s in the pencil case and isn’t used but the reassurance it brings is priceless.
Break the actions down into steps and then build on them –
- you just need to go to this class
- or for the morning
- a shorter day
- a later start
Taking a friend to school or having a set meeting spot can make them feel braver, more confident.
The biggest thing is to celebrate along the way – even the small things. Reflect with them – look at you, how far you’ve come, I am so proud!! Your choice of celebration could be a hug, an ice-cream, favourite takeaway for dinner – it’s your call. But, show your gorgeous child they did well, let them hear and see it loud and clear.
Let me list out those five approaches you can take to ease school anxiety:
Remind them each day is a new day and it’s their time to shine.