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A school is a place where we can learn many things that we will need later in life. The adult world can sometimes seem confusing from a child’s eyes. To gradually become more independent in dealing with such situations, you go to school every day. After all, school is only for learning arithmetic, writing, and reading. It should be a valuable companion on your way to adult life.
Unfortunately, school is not always a nice thing. Frequent fights between children and bullying can dampen your desire to go to school. If you then also have a bad relationship with the teacher, it’s no longer fun at all. Maybe you’re even afraid of writing class tests in certain subjects. You are not alone in this. Many children around the world are afraid to go to school.
Whatever the reason for your fear, there is help for you. Today, we’ll tell you exactly how you get there and why kids develop school anxiety in the first place.
How School Anxiety Manifests Itself
In the beginning, school anxiety usually manifests itself in children feeling uncomfortable when they enter the school building. Over time, they only associate unpleasant things with the irritating word “school”. Then it can happen that the fears become worse and worse and one even develops physical complaints.
Illness And Psychosomatic Complaints
Children who suffer from school anxiety try to avoid or delay going to school as much as possible. They pretend to be sick or actually get stomach aches, nausea, or other psychosomatic symptoms. Psychosomatic means that psychological ailments, such as anxiety, have a negative effect on the body. This can make you feel sick even though you are not sick at all. Psychosomatic complaints are no less bad than purely physical illnesses. This is because the fear behind them can only be eliminated very slowly.
Anxiety Before And During Exams (Test Anxiety)
Sometimes the fear of failure is a trigger for school anxiety. This form of anxiety is called test anxiety. Most kids feel a little uncomfortable before exams. This is completely normal and is due to the unknown challenge that lies ahead of them. However, if you already have to think about the next day’s exams at home and would rather not go at all, you may have test anxiety.
Affected kids do not feel well during the entire exam. They get hot flashes, sweats, headaches, or nausea. Many feel like they suddenly don’t know anything. They can’t do the assignments because they panic. This is a feeling as if everything that one has painstakingly learned before has been erased from memory. Because of this test anxiety, a general fear of school can develop.
Avoidance Behavior Due To School Anxiety
One then tries to avoid the unpleasant situations that trigger panic. This is called avoidance behavior. If one pretends to be sick or skips school, one can avoid the fear-triggering situation for the time being. In the long run, however, children who do so will face many problems. Because school anxiety doesn’t go away on its own if you don’t take care of it.
If you notice in yourself that you are prone to avoidance behavior, then by all means seek help! You can read more about how to do this below.
Worry, Sleep Problems, And Mild Depressive Episodes
Thoughts constantly revolve around one thing. You imagine sitting in school and being bullied or keep wondering what assignments will come up on the math test. Do you know what it’s like? When you brood over school problems every day and can’t turn off your mind at home either, it’s very stressful.
It doesn’t help to brood. On the contrary, worried kids have less fun in life than others. Moreover, if you brood too much, you can get serious sleep problems. You then have a hard time falling asleep or keep waking up. Worries follow you into your sleep. In the morning, you don’t feel refreshed and you’re not really ready to go to school. While other kids start the morning refreshed and happy, kids affected by school anxiety and sleep problems don’t feel well even in the morning.
Such sleep problems make it difficult to pay attention in class. It’s also hard to study in the afternoon if your eyes are constantly slamming shut. That doesn’t make the situation any better. Because if school performance deteriorates, school anxiety won’t go away either.
At worst, this negative cycle leads to kids developing a depressive episode at a fairly young age. This is a mental illness that occurs repeatedly over more or less short periods of time. When you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing anything. It is difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You have to persuade yourself to do everything. Your emotional world is confused and you rarely feel joy. Depressed people withdraw into themselves, brood a lot, and are less active.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or suspect you’re depressed, you’re in desperate need of help. Read on to learn what you can do.
Reasons And Triggers For School Anxiety
School or test anxiety depends on the child’s personality, for one thing. On the other hand, external circumstances can be triggers for such anxiety. The following things can promote the development of school anxiety.
Change Of School Or Residence
For example, when a parent gets a new job, there may be a move to another place. It’s not just the move itself that is extremely stressful. Because everything is different afterward. You may feel a little anxious about going to a new school where you don’t know anyone yet.
It’s normal to take a while to “warm up” to your new classmates and teachers. Also, it can be uncomfortable to be the center of attention as “the new guy” all the time. You’ll have to go through it willy-nilly. But take heart: sooner or later, you’ll usually make good friends. Sometimes the new school is even better than the previous one. Especially if you had problems with teachers or classmates before, a change of school can be a good chance for a fresh start.
Just let this new situation come to you and stay calm. Sooner or later, you will become an integral part of your class and will belong just as much as your classmates.
When you move on to a new school, you may have some questions. You wonder what you will have to face now. Whether you will be able to cope with the subject matter. How smart your classmates are, and so on. Rest assured: your classmates will be no different. In this sense, a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.
Disputes And Bad Atmosphere In The Class
In almost every class there are some troublemakers. As long as they “only” disrupt the class by being loud or not following the rules, it’s between your teacher and the students in question.
However, if bullying occurs in your class, things are a little different. Bullying means that one or more people are repeatedly teased by another group or a lone perpetrator. In this case, teachers and parents must work together to settle the disputes. This is because bullying is not allowed and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
When you can’t cope with a situation, you feel overwhelmed. You try to meet the requirements. But often even the greatest efforts do not help. The pressure to perform does not let up and you are constantly under stress.
If you’re not keeping up at school, it can be for a variety of reasons. Some kids suffer from dyslexia or dyscalculia (weakness in math). It’s not their fault that they don’t do as well in school as others. But like all kids, these kids have their strengths. You don’t have to get A’s in all subjects to succeed in life. What is important is that you use your talents and make the right career choices later on. Make an effort to do your best in all subjects. But do not despair if you cannot keep up with the performance of others.
For children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or other learning disabilities, there are special training programs. This makes it possible to significantly improve performance at school.
Even if you do not suffer from a learning disability, everyday school life can overwhelm you. If you have a lot of worries or many things are changing in your family, you may not be able to concentrate properly at school.
Parent tip: Go to http://www.elternwissen.com/schule-und-eltern/schulprobleme/art/tipp/schulangst-wie-sie-ihrem-kind-helfen-koennen.html together to test whether your child has school anxiety. In addition to a short questionnaire, the site has a list of tips for dealing with school anxiety for parents of affected kids.
Preventing School Anxiety
To prevent school anxiety from developing in the first place, teachers, students and parents need to work together. It takes a good learning atmosphere in the classroom to keep kids enjoying school. School should be a place you enjoy going to. Friendly decor, comfortable seating for recess, and regular recess times are a must for any school.
Good Atmosphere And Trust In Caregivers
Elementary school children in particular need a caregiver they can rely on. A constant change of teachers can have a negative effect on the learning atmosphere in the classroom. Sensitive children take a long time to get used to a teacher. They become downright distressed when their classroom teachers change frequently.
Talk About Your Feelings
As a child, you need support whenever something is bothering you. You should not be left alone with your problems. In order to be able to help you, those around you should know about your problems. So talk to someone you trust about your feelings. This alone often helps to overcome minor worries. Maybe you’re just worrying too much about something that doesn’t really matter Get someone else’s opinion to help clear your head.
Is everything okay at home? General well-being boosts your self-confidence and helps you avoid school anxiety in the first place. Because if you are self-confident, you don’t need to be afraid.
If you are confronted with family problems at home on a daily basis, this can quickly overwhelm you. You may not even notice it at first. But little by little, your parents’ squabbles begin to wear on your nerves. This can lead to a decline in your performance at school and you no longer feel comfortable there.
Talk to your parents about it if the situation at home is bothering you. If that doesn’t help, talk to someone you trust in your family or acquaintances. You can also talk to some teachers about all kinds of problems. The main thing is that you don’t keep your worries bottled up without talking to someone about them.
Part of your general well-being is, of course, that your basic needs are met. You shouldn’t have to worry about your family because they can’t provide for you adequately or are threatening to break up. In addition, you should also have time for yourself, despite homework, courses, and a tight schedule of free time. You need a break every now and then to let yourself feel good. Maybe it will help you to do some sports when you have time. Some kids like to read or play a little to distract themselves from the daily monotony.
All of these are important to help you feel good all around. Confident, happy kids are less prone to anxiety than overwhelmed, sad kids.
Form Study Groups
If you’re a little weak in a subject or just having a hard time, get help from your classmates. Form study groups or take advantage of tutoring. If your teacher suggests that you go to a remedial class, please take him up on the offer. This will give you a better understanding of the material. Maybe you just need a little more time to understand some things than others. That’s perfectly fine. A remedial course gives you the framework you need to better understand the material.
If you make use of support services right from the start and study together with other kids, you can avoid exam nerves.
Insider tip: Always combine learning with something pleasant. For example, eat a piece of chocolate or put your favorite stuffed animal next to you at the table. These things should not stop you from studying and should not distract you. If you want, you can then treat yourself to a piece of chocolate or take your lucky charm with you when you take the exam or class test. This way, the exam situation is linked to the learning situation and your brain can better remember what you taught it before. Also, we learn easier when we associate learning with something positive. Aside from that, you’re immediately much more motivated when learning is more fun, right?
Make Use Of Student Coaching
Many schools have guidance counselors, student coaches, or social educators. These people are trained to help students in crisis situations. They know the causes of school anxiety and have a lot of tips on how to combat it. If you don’t know if your school has such a service, just ask your homeroom teacher.
The first place to go for help with school anxiety is your parents. They can help you in many ways. Once they know about your anxiety, they will try to support you.
Parents’ tip: Suggestions on the subject of school anxiety and possible ways to help can be found at: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/Portal.Node/ghp/public/content/schule-schulangst-was-koennen-eltern-tun.html
For persistent school anxiety and severe cases, the following tips can help:
A visit to the doctor will provide information about therapy options. Mild herbal sedatives can be prescribed. They have a supportive effect, especially in the case of test anxiety.
Talking to the school doctor is a good alternative to a visit to the general practitioner.
School psychologists are experts in the field of school anxiety. Counseling and informational interviews are helpful in clarifying the further course of action.
Sometimes it is useful to start psychotherapy. Depending on the country and the health insurance company, the costs are covered in full or in part. You can get a referral from your general practitioner or psychiatrist.
Worksheet For The Text
1) Explain the difficult words in the text.
2) Under what circumstances can school anxiety to occur? What are possible triggers? Take notes in keywords.
3) Have you ever had anxiety? What was going on in your body? How did you feel? Draw a picture of fear.
4) What do you do when you are afraid of something? How can you get help?