Anxiety can take a tremendous toll on a student’s school performance and social functioning. Students do not choose to have anxiety. Their nervous system responds automatically, and their brain plays tricks on them making them feel like an emergency is imminent. That’s why phrases like “just relax” or “stop worrying” aren’t helpful. However, with practice, students can learn to slow down their anxious brains. The strategies below can foster an anxious student’s success within the school setting.
- Provide opportunities for hands-on activities. Students are more engaged and less distracted by worries when physically active.
- New or unexpected situations can cause increased discomfort and worries. Provide students with information regarding what to expect in the new situation to help remove uncertainty or potential fear associated with it.
- Extra time and warnings before transitions
- Clearly stated and written expectations (behavioral and academic)
- Take a brief break from the classroom. Examples might include walking down the hallway, getting water, standing outside the classroom door for a few minutes, drawing or journaling in the back of the room, or using a relaxation app with headphones.
- Identify a trusted adult at school to seek help from when feeling anxious (school counselor, nurse, teacher, etc.)
- Pair student with a peer to assist with transitions to lunch and recess (less structured situations can trigger anxious feelings)
- Leadership opportunities build confidence in children.
- Provide students with opportunities to help around the classroom (e.g., passing out papers or materials, assisting with a lesson, etc.).
- After an illness, missed work can spike anxious feelings. Providing class notes and exempting students from missed homework can help.
Many students suffer from anxiety; however, few reach out for help. If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety reach out to a psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety today. Students can learn strategies to gain mastery of their anxiety and thrive in the classroom setting.