Does your child feel stress and anxiety about completing homework and understanding concepts being taught in school
Does your child feel anxiety and stress about completing homework and understanding concepts being taught in school?
Does your child feel anxiety and stress in socializing with their peers and being part of a group?
Does your child seem to be faced with more anxiety and stress than you did when you were a child?
Perhaps you experienced difficulties in school and you want to help your child to be more successful. You may see that your child is avoiding their homework as they don’t understand how to do it. They may say they don’t have any or that they have already done it. Your child may argue with you or plead with you to try to get out of itl. They just want to play and forget about school and the dreaded homework. Do you notice that your child plays alone most of the time and complains that they don’t have any friends?
There is always support and help for you and your child.
First, let’s look at the definition of Anxiety and Stress. Are they the same or different?
Anxiety means a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Other words: Worry, concern, uneasiness. (Definition-- Google)
Stress is when a person feels that everything seems to become too much--we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with pressures placed upon us. (What is Stess? How to Deal With Stress. By Christian Nordvist--Medical News Today)
Why are we seeing a rise in anxiety and stress in students?
Since the 1980’s there has been a gradual, yet steady, increase in academic demands placed on our students and in the amount of homework assigned to them (Kohn, 2006). Teachers have felt the added pressures to keep up with the tougher standards movement. (Communique--NASP; Volume 43.5--Viewpoint--Holland, Sisson, Abeles)
With all this added pressure of obtaining academic progress and growth which may be causing your child to feel anxiety and stress toward school. What can you do as parents to alleviate these feelings so that your child can go to school and look forward to and enjoy the experience of learning.
Communication: Talk to your child about why learning in school is important to her future, and that you value education.
Show interest: Your interest and excitement toward what your child is learning will influence them to be interested and excited about school.
When your child does not understand a concept or is struggling with learning, anxiety may surface. They may wonder why all the other students seem to understand a concept and they do not. This is when your child really needs your help. Perhaps it brings back memories when you were in school and there were subjects that were hard or difficult to understand and you think, “How can I help my child?”
Talk to your child’s teachers, as they are a wonderful resource. They can provide you with ideas of how to support your child with extra help in learning a concept or generally struggling in school. Together you can find a solution. (There is homework help at school, and there are also on-line learning programs.)
At home, when your child is struggling with their homework or they feel stuck. It’s ok to let your child take a break. It helps the brain recharge, the body relax and increases stamina. Some fun break ideas include taking a walk with your child, shooting hoops, riding bikes or having a snack break. Sometimes a brain break is all that is needed to give the brain time to process the information. When your child returns to their homework, the brain will be relaxed and ready to work.
When your child feels that you care about them, how they are doing in school and want to help, the anxiety and stress will decrease and they can feel free to be a kid.
Now let’s talk about making and keeping friends. Your child may have the ability to make friends, but after a while the friendship may fall apart--they lose friend(s) and they don’t understand why. It’s important to be understanding and help them problem solve how to make some changes in how they interact and play with other children. Are they too controlling or bossy in playing with friends? Do they always need to win? Are they being possessive of friends? Is there a problem with feelings of jealousy when their friends play with someone else? Your observations of the interaction between your child and their friends will help you answer some of these questions and understand how to support your child with friendships. You can gently talk to him about what they can do to have positive interactions with friends.
Ask your child’s teacher if they observed any problems that your child may have getting along with their peers. The teacher may have recommendations or suggestions on how your child can improve relationships with their peers and help with making friends.
Your child may, at times, not want you to know about the problems that they having with school or with friends because they don’t want to worry you or disappoint you. Encourage them to talk
to you about their problems. If you notice a change in your child’s behavior, such as being less talkative, seeming sad, withdrawn, or short tempered, it is important to let them know that you love them and you would not be disappointed or angry if they need help. Just talking about feelings, and the causes of these feeling, helps relieve anxiety and stress.
If you have concerns or worries about your child’s behavior or emotional needs, there are resources at Van Buren Elementary School that can help. Your child’s Classroom Teacher, School Psychologist, School Counselor or Principal, are here for you and your child. You are not alone.
Ann Richards, School Psychologist, Van Buren Elementary School
Many thanks to Heidi Jahnke, Speech and Language Pathologist, for her contributions