The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for many children, but not all kids look forward to returning to class. And the current pandemic may cause even the most eager learners to experience feelings of anxiety, doubt and negativity about going back to campus. Fortunately, there are some ways in which parents and guardians can help their students become more positive about the year ahead.
How to Help Kids Cope with School Anxiety
If your son or daughter seems less than enthusiastic about the 2021-2022 school year, the following techniques may help change their mindset.
Model a positive attitude.
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” Are you familiar with this popular phrase from motivational speaker Zig Ziglar? Well, kids often take their cues from parents and other trusted adults. If you discuss the importance of education with your child, show them that you are excited about the upcoming school year and share enjoyable experiences from your own school days, they may go from dreading school to thinking it’s cool.
Help reframe negative thoughts.
Your child may be experiencing lots of negative internal dialogue, such as “I’m not a good student,” “Everybody understands this math problem but me” or even “Nobody likes me.” Teach them to turn that bad banter into positive thoughts, like “I’m working hard in my classes and understanding more every day,” “I bet others are having trouble with this math problem, too, so I’ll ask the teacher to review it.” and “I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and try to befriend the girl sitting next to me.”
Take time to listen.
Your child’s negative feelings toward school may be easily remedied with a simple conversation. So, ask what is bothering them about returning to class—your responses might set their mind at ease. And even if you don’t have all the answers, you may find yourself chipping away at some of their pessimistic thoughts. At the very least, the discussion will remind them that you are always on their side.
Set realistic expectations.
Depending on how it’s applied, pressure to perform well in school can cause students to shine—or sink. To help your child feel less overwhelmed academically, set clear and realistic expectations for the school year, but let them know that you require hard work and dedication, not perfection.
Promote a growth mindset.
If your child embraces a growth mindset, they will believe that success can be achieved through hard work, not just innate ability. Remind them that if they pay attention, study hard and ask for assistance when needed, they can become a star student and reap many academic rewards.
Reward their efforts.
Speaking of rewards, positive reinforcement, in the form of hugs, high fives and praise for a job well done can help children feel good about their schoolwork—and going to school. Some parents may even acknowledge kids’ efforts with small gifts, such as extra screen time or that new shirt they’ve been eyeing.
Parental support goes a long way toward making kids feel more confident and secure in their scholastics. Look for ways to show your child that you are on their academic team, from volunteering in class or at the annual book fair to chaperoning their fieldtrips.
Enlist the aid of a professional.
If nothing you say or do seems to be getting through to your child, it may be time to set up a meeting with a school counselor or a therapist. Someone with more training may offer additional insights on how to help your student have a better attitude about school.