School Anxiety: The Importance of Paying Close Attention

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blogue anxiété à l'école - SOS Études

Right before leaving for school, your child tells you he or she has a tummy ache or headache, or just doesn’t feel well. Are these ailments real or are they a sign of an anxiety disorder? Should you be worried?

The beginning of a new school year can certainly be unsettling, but when these ailments start becoming more serious and frequent, it’s time for parents to ask themselves what might really be going on.

If your child often complains about school or constantly says he or she is not feeling well, especially in the morning, he or she may have developed school anxiety. This is even more likely to be the case if the symptoms always appear during the week but never on weekends. It is important to pay close attention to your child and get him or her to put his or her feelings into words. No matter what symptoms he or she complains of, it is possible that the pain is real even though nothing seems to indicate an illness.

Your child might be gradually developing an anxiety disorder and a type of school phobia. This fear can often go unnoticed since the children who have it are often thought of as students who simply don’t like school.

Why might children develop this condition?

The following factors often contribute to developing a negative attitude towards school, including an anxiety disorder:

  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of disappointing one’s parents
  • Fear of feeling inferior to one’s friends
  • Recurring quarrels between friends
  • Bullying

Mid- and long-term consequences of not addressing the situation

For some, things such as an oral presentation or an important exam can trigger episodes of anxiety that may become more and more frequent and intense over time.

The child will find it increasingly difficult to attend school and will come up with ways to avoid going. He or she will miss school more often, which could eventually lead to other problems such as:

  • Falling significantly behind at school;
  • Laziness;
  • Social and emotional isolation;
  • Increased anxiety;
  • Panic attacks;
  • Depression and feelings of distress;
  • Disruption of family life.

Over time, this negative energy towards school can worsen and lead to other serious problems such as dropping out and developing social phobia. You must remain vigilant and not hesitate to get help.

What to do if you are worried

  • Do not ignore your child’s symptoms. Ask your child to show you where it hurts and encourage him or her to openly express his or her feelings.
  • Try to find out more about what he or she is feeling and to figure out if it can be caused by something specific going on in his or her life.
  • Speak with your child’s teacher so he or she is aware of the situation. The teacher could then come up with strategies to help your child.
  • If the anxiety becomes more frequent and intense, contact your child’s doctor for advice.