Child, fears, School

school anxiety in children

school anxiety in children

When children are afraid of school

Almost everyone is afraid of something – adults as well as children. There is nothing bad or unusual about it; in some situations, fear is even necessary for survival. Some children develop a fear of school. Although in life some fears may seem unavoidable, school anxiety should not simply be accepted or even ignored. It is important for parents and teachers to address such issues. (More about fears in children )

What is school anxiety?

Anxiety is a permanently occurring feeling that intensifies in people suffering from school anxiety in relation to school. This fear can have very different manifestations. While some students generally have problems facing other people, i.e. show a kind of social phobia or pronounced shyness, other students have problems facing authority figures. But performance anxiety and test anxiety can also be a form of school anxiety.

In many cases, the anxiety manifests itself in physical reactions:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • in some cases sudden fever can also occur.


Reasons for being afraid of school

Anxiety about school can be caused by numerous factors. Often it has only superficially something to do with school itself. In many cases, it arises more from the home environment or specific experiences. While some children are naturally extremely shy and easily upset, other children have had very specific experiences, such as bullying or violence at school. To avoid these situations, they try to avoid them and develop school anxiety as a kind of defensive reaction, which in the worst case can lead to complete refusal to attend school. In some cases, school anxiety occurs in early childhood, when the child starts kindergarten or elementary school. The cause here is often separation anxiety, which can be explained by the very close relationship with the mother or another trusted person.

Also during puberty, anxiety can develop, especially school anxiety. Children and adolescents are searching for themselves during puberty and view many situations critically. If there are problems at home or in the class community, school anxiety can develop during puberty. A child who suffers from pronounced test anxiety has usually developed it over a longer period of time. In the beginning there were bad grades in one or more subjects, followed by reproaches from parents and teachers, whereupon the child gradually developed doubts about himself and his performance. In order to avoid poor grades in class tests and exams, some students see only the possibility of staying away from these testing situations. In the long run, of course, this behavior still leads to poor grades and does not solve the problem. Parents and teachers are challenged in such situations.

treatment of school anxiety

As a rule, parents are closest to their child and are therefore the first to recognize when there are problems at school or in other areas. In some cases, however, there may be indications from teachers, for example, that the child has been absent without excuse for several days. It is extremely important that you as a parent stand by your child when he or she is suffering from school anxiety. First, try to clarify in a conversation what the reasons are and address your child’s fears. Do not put your child under pressure, but motivate him or her! Joint relaxation exercises such as autogenic training or yoga can help in many cases. If you are at a loss yourself, contact a guidance counselor at school, the youth welfare office or a school psychologist.

What to do if school anxiety becomes a panic disorder?


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