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Help for Children with School Anxiety

Help for Children with School Anxiety

Having suffered from anxiety and depression myself (like about 40 million, or 18% of Americans), I can tell you it is real. Yes, some people still think it’s “all in your head.” I have heard many well-intentioned teachers and parents alike poo-poo the idea of school anxiety in particular. While some may use these feelings as a crutch or excuse to avoid schoolwork, they can be physically damaging and real to the person suffering from true anxiety or one of several other possible disorders. Before pushing it off as nothing, please determine whether or not your child has an anxiety issue that needs your attention.

Just nervous or an anxiety problem?

How can a parent tell the difference? It is, after all, normal for kids to be nervous about a new school year and teacher, making friends, academic success and more. I’m nervous for my kids, but when is it a real problem? When your child can be distracted or comforted out of his or her worry, it may not be a big problem. It may just take time for your child to adjust to so many changes at once. Anxiety that lasts several weeks into the school year may suggest more is going on with your kid.

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When your child worries about everything, refuses to attend school, can’t focus on activities he or she would normally enjoy, or when his or her fears and worries impact activities of daily life, it is time to call the pediatrician. Keep the teacher in the loop and ask for his or her observations. If you have anxiety yourself, you may notice similar signs in your child. Try not to let your child hear you talk about your worries. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings and identify steps to take if they get overly anxious. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has tips and suggestions for parents and caregivers to help kids with school-related anxiety.

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Here are some ways parents can help a child who may be struggling with school anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings as real by speaking calmly and honestly; remember that no feelings are wrong. We all experience life differently, and what upsets me likely doesn’t bother you. Try not to add to your child’s fears with negative comments. Instead, encourage them to see the positive aspects of school (field trips, sports,  clubs, etc.).
  2. Try to include your child in school planning and scheduling; give choices or options when possible. Kids want some power over their life, and many options are available today.
  3. Prepare him or her for upcoming situations by knowing what may upset or exacerbate your child’s anxiety and teach him or her strategies to deal and avoid anxiety-inducing situations when possible. Deep breathing and visualization are two simple techniques even the youngest kids can master.
  4. Look forward to new opportunities rather than back at past failures. Always have high expectations for your child, academically and personally, but be flexible and non-critical when success is not reached.
  5. Encourage your child to develop his or her strength areas and independence by pointing out areas of success and providing opportunities to work on or display those skills.

Everyone gets nervous sometimes, but when nervousness turns to crippling anxiety, get help. Be patient with kids as they traverse a new school year with a new teacher, but be aware when your child seems overly clingy or the stomachache returns each morning before school. Avoid letting your child stay home, as this can give the wrong message. Instead, be supportive without giving in or giving up. Finally, keep teachers and school professionals involved in the conversation; they may have experience and techniques to help support your child’s continued success in school and life.

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Joan Lowell

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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