Anxiety makes school hard for kids. It might also be hard to notice. Anxiety can be confused with upset stomachs, acting out, ADHD or even learning disorders. And there are different kinds of anxiety that might come up at school. Kids may worry about everything from separating from parents at drop-off to speaking up in class to feeling like their work has to be perfect.
Although it is not uncommon for children to feel some anxiety about starting school or going to a new school, children with school anxiety feel an extreme amount of fear and worry regarding everyday attendance. This can interfere with their ability to go to classes or do well in school.
Many kids experience some level of stress or anxiety in social situations they encounter in school. Anxiety that accompanies social interactions and settings, to include those that may take place at school.
Mental health professionals do not completely understand the causes of school anxiety. For some children, the fear and worry associated with school anxiety are related to a specific cause, such as being bullied or having a bad experience at school. For others, the anxiety may be more general and related to social or performance anxiety.
Children may develop anxiety if they have been home for a long period, such as during summer vacation or because of illness. A stressful event, such as the death of a family member or moving to a new home, may also trigger the condition.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating school anxiety, and the best strategy may depend on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying causes.
Mental health professionals may use a combination of psychotherapy, educational support, and medications to treat school anxiety. Therefore, a collaborative team approach that involves the child, their parents or caregivers, school personnel, and mental health professionals is often necessary.
The first step in treatment is often to meet with the child’s school personnel to develop a plan. This may include making adjustments to the child’s schedule, providing support in the classroom, or involving the child in social activities outside of school.