Dealing with Anxiety
presented by OSA P.O.D.S.
(Parents of Students with Disabilities)
School anxiety can affect any student in their school career, whether they’ve previously experienced or been diagnosed with anxiety or not. Symptoms of anxiety may not be obvious to parents, as it can also manifest as irritability, avoidance, and even explosive anger. What’s important is figuring out the right way to support your student with school and activities as they learn coping skills. Here are some anxiety supports parents can implement with their student:
-Remain calm even when your student is not keeping their cool. As L.R. Knost says, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos. Even if your child is not at their best, be compassionate and assume the reason they are dysregulated is valid.
-Give space for your child to share what their fears are without contradicting them. Even if they are worried about impossibilities, the feeling is real, so start there. “I can understand why you would feel that way…” and skip the “but” at first. Instead of telling them what’s real, give them space to problem solve their worst case scenarios. (Unless their fears are absolutely unrealistic, in which case it’s okay to say so, for example, “I promise you will not fail your math class over one bad test.”)
-If it is school work related, sit down together and figure out what school work needs to be done and break down the tasks together. Sometimes anxiety makes it difficult to break big tasks into smaller tasks. Working through it together will help them learn new skills to do this on their own as they become more independent in their education. There is more pressure than ever on young people to perform academically. Make sure your child knows that you do not equate their academic success with their worth.
-If it is related to social issues, let them vent about their relationships without butting in to defend people until they’re done. It’s okay to want to help steer them away from completely casting people aside or help them repair a relationship, but let your child get their feelings out first. Sometimes feelings are expressed in hyperbole– don’t get caught up in the details, hold space for the feelings. Remember how big it can feel for a tween or teen to have social difficulties. Even if their problem seems small or silly to you, it is likely huge to them.
-If anxiety is affecting your child on an ongoing basis, consider finding them a talk therapist who can be a trusted adult to help them work through these issues and develop skills for their lives as adults.
-Connect your child with OSA school counselors so they know where to seek help on campus. If they have a trusted teacher or faculty member, check in with that person about some of their ideas to support your child.
-Practice a grounding technique with your child, like 5-4-3-2-1 that they can do on their own at school.
-If anxiety is making school difficult or affecting your child’s grades, consider a 504 Plan which can provide accommodations at school to help them access their education.
If you would like support with your child’s anxiety or want to know more about 504 Plans or IEPs, please email [email protected]
gmail.com to be connected with our group.