Being a teenager can be difficult in today’s world. Adding in the challenges of school makes it even harder. Many teens experience some level of anxiety during this time, as problems with friends, romantic relationships, assignments, and extracurricular activities occur.
These feelings are completely normal and understandable. However, what if your child seems to always have fearful feelings about school no matter how much reassurance you give or how much time passes by? This may be an indication that he or she is suffering from an anxiety disorder.
What Is an Anxiety Disorder?
An anxiety disorder is when worry and fear over a perceived danger persist and in a greater degree than the stressor warrants. These emotions interfere with the ability to function normally. Other symptoms often include:
- Sleep problems
- Changes in appetite
- Social withdrawal
- Trouble with concentration
- Poor grades or behavior at school
- Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
- Mood swings
- Low amounts of energy
Examples of disorders are generalized anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, separation anxiety, and social anxiety. Treatment often involves medication and therapy.
For school-related anxiety, the fear revolves around school issues, such as tests and grades. Your teen may not want to go to school at all and can experience physical ailments such as nausea or exhibit defiance when it’s time to leave. He or she may visit the nurse’s office frequently and come home early.
How Can You Help?
It’s hard as a caring parent to see your child go through so much pain and turmoil. You want to do whatever possible to alleviate the suffering. Thankfully, there are ways you can help. Here are a few tips that can get you started.
- Talk to the principal, teachers, and school counselor to gain support for your plans and obtain accommodations for your teen. Lack of validation of the issue can cause your child to withdraw further.
- Start off with small exposures to school – maybe only one or two classes a day – to get your son or daughter comfortable. Lengthen the time as your child builds confidence.
- Discover what parts of school your child does enjoy, such as learning about a certain subject or having lunch with friends. From there, help your teen focus on those parts as well as his or her strengths to help get through the day.
- Teach your child helpful tools to reduce fear and worry. Deep breathing, talking about emotions, and engaging in a relaxing hobby are all effective options.
- Remain calm during episodes of teen anxiety. Express your assurance that your child can handle difficult situations and then let him or her do so. Praise progress and courage and show compassion toward mistakes.
Overall, the most important thing is to get in tune with what your teen needs from you so you can offer more personalized support.
Seek Out Professional Help if Needed
While you play an irreplaceable role in your child’s success, you can’t dismiss the importance of professional assistance. In several cases, anxiety disorders require treatment from a mental health professional to increase the likelihood of lasting progress. At High Focus Centers, your teen will receive the treatment and therapy necessary to fight their condition. Contact us today to find out which program may be right for your son or daughter.