12 Ways to Help Kids Cope With School Anxiety


In this piece for USA Today, Candy Grande offers 12 non-drug approaches for helping kids cope with school-related anxiety, such as having a discussion about their worries, involving them in extracurricular activities, making sure they get enough sleep, and packing mementos in their notebooks or lunch boxes.

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  1. #1: Don’t send your kid to a school that scares them!

    This is a fantastic example of ignoring your child’s cues. If a preschooler cried and tantrumed and told you they were afraid to go to preschool, you wouldn’t just force them to go, would you? You’d at least look into it and find out what was bothering him/her. But somehow we’re supposed to assume that school is a great place and that any kid wanting to avoid it is malfunctioning. Maybe the kid wants to avoid school because school is a place of fear, abuse, disrespect, and humiliation. Maybe you should take a good look at what’s happening in your child’s school before you decide that his/her complaints are lacking in substance!

    —- Steve

    • I do agree. I have a son that was bullied endlessly for the first six years he attended school. The school did nothing even though it was reported by me again and again. Yet, when he had had enough and reacted, there was something wrong with him. I, like an idiot, believed it but after about a year and a half of watching those with “expertise” fumble through IEP after IEP, I pulled him out and home schooled (unschooled). He has trust now, has held a job over a year at the same place and is mature and extremely intelligent. He wants to return to an alternative program but does not want anything to do with special education. I am with him on that yet I’m not sure they will be able to 1.) leave the past in the past and want to stick with a group of DSM diagnosis that don’t even fit or 2.) admit that they ever approached anything wrong or failed him in any way or 3) use common sense to understand that people are capable or change. I’ll be damned if they will pigeon hole him as “mentally ill” and offer him a sub par education that will not allow him to peruse the career he wants. Taking the time to read the cues your kids are giving you is huge and can change their lives for the better and allow you to be their best advocate. As a whole, public education is not good and we need to face that truth before anything changes.

  2. This is the “medical model” of education! Every single suggestion makes the assumption that the child’s anxiety is inappropriate and unwarranted! When there is a bedrock assumption that school is a beneficial place where kids can safely learn, you pathologize the child

    • It invalidates the child’s voice completely. But that’s what school was all about, as far as I recall. My voice was rarely if ever of interest to anybody there. When I graduated high school, I felt like I’d been released from a POW camp. It was 13 years of torture for me. But nobody ever bothered to ask how I felt about it.

      • The human voice, too. The corporate success story serves neoliberalism, and education today is built around churning out business automatons for the corporate system. We know “good guys” don’t finish first, and this promotion of bad asses once again brings forward the matter of ethics as corruption becomes more and more of an issue.

        Mechanistic materialism, at some point, is going to become a problem, and a problem demanding ‘counter narratives’ to the narrative of your typical and official functionaries. This is to say, when success is so tainted, the narrative of your ‘dysfunctionary’ must also be seen in context, and thus assumes an importance of its own.