How to Help My Child with Anxiety about School
Having anxiety about school? Which path do you choose?
As summer holidays come to an end, and the beginning of school is around the corner, many parents notice their child’s anxiety about school appearing.
Each year I write about this topic (for previous articles, please see the bottom of today’s article). Today I want to discuss the concept of taking the FEAR path or the TRUST path.
It’s important to help our children realize that we do have the power to choose our thoughts – although I know it can be very difficult when the anxiety has fully taken over.
When your child is not highly anxious, it is important to discuss the idea of having a choice between two paths to reach the same destination or outcome.
For example, when we have anxiety about school we can take the FEAR path and think fearful, worrisome thoughts:
“What if I get the meanest or strictest teacher in the school?”
“What if none of my friends are in my class/classes?”
“What if my friends don’t like me anymore?”
These negative thoughts are going to give us negative feelings and we’re going to feel bad.
However, if we can try to change these negative FEARFUl thoughts to positive TRUSTING thoughts, such as:
“I wonder who my teacher will be? I hope I get my favourite teacher.”
“I’m sure that at least one of my good friends will be in my class and if not I’ll have a chance to make some new friends.”
“I’m excited to see my friends. We haven’t seen each other for so long.”
These positive thoughts are going to give us positive feelings that will make us feel better.
The two paths lead to the same destination…
The key point is that no matter what we think the destination is the same: The teacher is already decided, which students are in which classes is already decided, friends may stay friends or may grow apart over the summer but having fearful thoughts about this won’t change things.
Therefore, we have two choices…
We can take the FEARFUL path and have lots of anxiety about school
We can take the TRUST path and believe that things are going to work out and we’ll be able to handle it.
What are you thinking and feeling and how are you handling it?
As parents, we may also be having anxiety about school. We may be worried about which teacher our child will get or which friends will be in his/her class. We need to be conscious of role-modeling the TRUST path for our children.
When I work with teens or children who have anxiety about something, I will explain this concept of the two paths leading to the same outcome and I will tell them this short vignette from Winnie-the-Pooh.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were planning a walk in the woods on a blustery day. Suddenly Piglet got very worried and said:
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
― A.A. Milne
I love this because it shows that no matter how much we worry, we can’t control life and the outcome. We can worry for the whole walk that a tree might fall down or we can enjoy the walk and if a tree falls down, then deal with the situation when it happens.
TRUST vs. FEAR
I hope this helps you show your child, how he/she does have a choice about which path to take to get the same destination.
To help you cope with your child’s anxiety about school, you may wish to receive my free ebook: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child Is Anxious please click here.
I hope the transition back to school goes well for all of you,
PS. Registration is now open for my next round of “Brain Science” groups to teach children ages 7-9yrs. and 10-12yrs. about anxiety and anxiety management strategies. For more information and to register online please click here and go to “upcoming events/groups”.
For previous articles on back to school anxiety:
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