Between 2 and 5% of school aged children suffer from one form or another of school anxiety. If your child has frequent stomach aches, frets at the thought of going to school, or begs you to stay home, anxiety may be the culprit.
How do you know if your child has school anxiety or is playing hooky?
Noted child psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein says the following:
The main way to tell if anxiety is the culprit: if your child begs you to stay home from school, and you give in, and the child gets instant recovery or relief.
“Kids thrive on relief, and it will probably be a change you can immediately see. That doesn’t mean that your child’s school refusal physical symptoms are faked. If their anxiety is making them so upset that they are vomiting, than there is real fear there, and again, that is not to be underestimated. But at being allowed to avoid school, their systems will relax and it will cause a difference you will be able to sense.” – Source
What can Parents do about School Anxiety?
Apparently there is a strong genetic component to school anxiety. If you have anxiety or panic attacks, your children are at greater risk for developing anxiety and panic attacks in school. But take heart- there are things we can do.
As parents, we must advocate for our children. At the first sign you suspect your child may be having school anxiety, have your pediatrician do a thorough evaluation to rule out any physical cause.
Don’t give in to your child’s anxiety. Panic attacks in children are horrifying, and they may do everything to try to stay home. As hard as it may be, it’s better to get your child to school every day. If you let her stay home whenever she feels anxious, you reinforce avoidance behavior. This only makes it harder on your child in the long run.
Evaluate your home. Is there a major transition going on such as a move, job loss, divorce, or death? Stress in the home can trigger anxiety in children. Make sure you are coping appropriately with stress.
Enlist the help of the school. Most school professionals are familiar with school anxiety and phobias in children. Many schools today have a social worker or school psychologist on staff. Arrange a confidential meeting to discuss your child’s situation and fears. You can also speak to the school nurse or the principal. And of course you want to speak to your child’s teacher.
When the parents collaborate effectively with the school, this can make the child’s situation much more manageable. Have a plan in place where your child can go speak to the nurse whenever he or she feels anxious. The parents and school should work together to keep the anxious child in school, and reinforce that she is safe while she is there.
Once your child feels she is being understood and that people at school are supportive and helpful, the school anxiety is likely to diminish quickly. Then your child can get back to business as usual.
You MUST help your child at home and at school- and you can! 🙂
The good news? With help, the prognosis for school anxiety is very very good! Here is an excellent program if you have a child with school phobia or if he or she has panic attacks:
This is a wonderful, effective program to help parents with school aged children who are having a rough time with school phobia, anxiety, and even panic attacks.
I had the the opportunity to review the whole program and all I can say is, where was this when my daughter was going through her school anxiety a few years ago?
This is immediate anxiety help available at your fingertips- strategies you as parents can implement and teach your child right now to empower them and help them start to feel better right away.
The price is $97 and it comes with a money back guarantee, so there is really no risk to try it. And if you’ve ever been through the harrowing ordeal of trying to get a good therapist for your child like I have, there is NO guarantee ever and your wallet is quickly drained.
It is very, very hard not to give in to your child when they are anxious. You just want to hug them and make everything better. Believe me I get it, I am a mother who lived through it. And I know you feel like it will never end.
It will. I can say with strong conviction that my experience would have been much easier if I had had a resource like the Anxiety Free Child Program.
Remember: You are your child’s best advocate and support person- and with this simple program, you can really make a difference.
If your child suffers from school anxiety, don’t try to figure it out yourself or wait 2 weeks until you get an appointment with a therapist who may or may not help. You know your child best and can start helping them right away. What a tremendous gift.
I wish you peace,
ps.- If you know a parent who is struggling with an anxious, school phobic child, please pass this information on to them.