8 Tips for Managing Anxiety in Children About School

Starting a new school year can be an overwhelming and scary experience for children and it can be stressful to manage anxiety in children. A child’s anxiety can last beyond the first weeks and can be frustrating and confusing for everyone.  Fortunately, there are several strategies that you can use to help their children better manage their anxieties and ease their transition into the classroom.

Talk with them about their fears and reflect back their feelings.

One of the best ways to help kids manage their school-related anxieties is by simply talking to them. Ask your child questions about what worries them and try to understand the source of their fears. Make sure to emphasize that their feelings are normal, even if you don’t agree with them. This will help your child see that their fears are being taken seriously and that you are there for them.

Reflect their feelings

Instead of asking “How are you feeling?”, reflect the feeling you are seeing. For example:  “You look worried? Is that how you are feeling?” This questioning develops children’s language of emotions and encourages them to admit their feelings. 

Practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques together.

Spend some time every day practicing deep breathing and relaxation techniques, like meditation or mindfulness activities. These easy practices can help children relax their bodies and minds, allowing them to find inner peace and become more agile in managing anxious thoughts. You can also practice yoga with them to help further relax the body and reduce tension.

Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep

A lack of sleep can make a child’s anxiety and worries worse. Establishing a routine that will ensure your child is getting 9 – 11 hours of sleep a night will help enormously in your child being able to manage their emotions.

Make a plan for how they will ask for support while at school.

Talk to your child about who they can reach out to in case of anxious feelings or other emotions at school. Knowing that there are caring adults they can reach out to and having some strategies they can use to self regulate will help them feel more secure and calm throughout the day. Talk through any worries they may have about asking for help and make sure your child feels comfortable doing so.

Encourage helpful thinking-focus on all the things that can go right.

Children who experience anxiety about school may be focusing on worst-case scenarios and all of the things that can go wrong. Gently remind them to focus on positive outcomes, such as their successes, friendships made, and knowledge learned throughout the day. Encouraging optimistic thinking can help them reframe any anxious thoughts.

Role-play any challenges related to school, like asking adults for help or speaking up in class.

Role-playing is a great way to help kids gain the skills and confidence they need in order to succeed. Use role-play games to practice different scenarios and talk through how your child can respond. For example, practice introducing themselves in class or how to ask an adult for help in an uncomfortable situation.

Rate the Day: Help them to reflect

Often when a child is anxious about doing something, like going to school, they will imagine the worst.  A great way to create awareness that often our worries don’t eventuate or are bigger in our head than in reality is using this simple strategy. 

Step 1: At the beginning of the day, ask your child to give a score to “How do you think your day at school is going to be out of 1-10?”  With 1 being the lowest. 

Step 2: Repeat this at the end of the day, ask your child to reflect with a question like “How did you day go out of 1 -10?”

Step 2: Follow this up with questions to encourage them to reflect on their day like:

“What went well?”

“What did you do to make sure when you felt a bit worried?

“Who made you feel safe today?”

“What did you do that was brave?”

Our Mistake Maker camp teaches kids tools to manage their emotions. Kids are taught strategies to think with a helpful growth mindset and learn how making mistakes can be a good thing.