Anxiety comes in many shapes and sizes and unfortunately, it doesn’t discriminate based on age, culture, or socioeconomic background. Everyone can experience anxiety at some point in their lives and it often manifests itself in a variety of ways that may seem like a person is simply acting out. Young children, particularly those who are just starting school, can exhibit explicit signs and symptoms of anxiety by flat out refusing to go to school; however, school anxiety is a prevalent phenomenon for a lot of young people and must be handled delicately and appropriately.
Understanding School Refusal and It’s Causes
Many first-time or repeat students can start to feel anxious at the beginning and throughout the school year for various reasons and it’s important for parents and teachers to understand what could be causing those feelings of trepidation. Some parents dismissively relegate school refusal to laziness or truancy, but these internal issues your child is facing are so much more complex than that and it’s important to explore the different reasons why your child refuses to go to school rather than simply making assumptions. School anxiety therapy is specially formulated to help you and your child understand and come to terms with their often very confusing fears and anxieties regarding their education.
How to Help Your Child Cope with Starting School or Back-to-School Anxiety
Child anxiety counselling provides a safe, confidential, and personal space for your child to express their greatest fears and anxieties about going to school. A lot of the time, these emotions stem from other experiences they may have faced in the past or are currently facing. Performance anxiety, test anxiety, the fear of not fitting in at school, the fear or failure, and the fear of disappointing parents or other authority figures in their lives are all profound causes of school refusal that should be addressed. Here are a few critical guidelines you can utilize at home to help your child effectively overcome their school-related fears and anxiety:
Discuss and Understand Their Anxiety
Ask your child why they don’t want to go to school and offer solutions to help ease their anxiety. Even if they don’t want to talk about it or if you don’t have the answers (that’s perfectly acceptable), just let them know that you’re there to comfort and support them whenever they need it.
Empathize with Your Child’s Experience of Anxiety
Let your child know that they’re not alone and you know what it’s like to feel anxious about starting something new. Use anecdotal examples from when you first started school and tap into how that made you feel so that you can relate more easily to your child. This will make them feel safe and comforted.
Teach Them Deep Breathing and Relaxation Exercises
Unfortunately, you can’t be with your child every second of every day while they’re at school; but you can teach them useful breathing and relaxation exercises that they can practice whenever those feelings of anxiety start to resurface. Show them the proper breathing techniques. Teach them about mindfulness and how to meditate whenever they need to relieve some stress at school.
Child counselling is a complex system of mental health treatments that can help identify feelings of anxiety in children and their direct causes. While it’s not an exact science, evidence has shown that it can be a helpful coping mechanism for children who are experiencing feelings of anxiety. Growth Counselling Services offers specialized school anxiety therapy and coping mechanisms for children and their parents alike. Please contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer.