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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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