The Anxious Homeschooler: How to help your child calm down and focus
All of us experience anxiety from time to time. It’s a normal part of life. And it’s normal for all of our homeschooling children to experience anxiety in their learning, too. For many children with special needs and mental health issues, this anxiety can be debilitating.
My son is like that. Sometimes what seems like a little task to me seems so large and ominous to him that it is completely overwhelming. He gets stuck, afraid to face this monstrous task but knowing that he has no choice.
In those moments, there are several key things that parents can do to help their children reduce their anxiety and focus on the task at hand. It is important that we also teach our children these tools, how to recognize their own anxiety, and help them understand when and how to use their coping tools. There are other times when we expect something may be anxiety provoking that lend themselves nicely to a reminder to use a strategy ahead of time.
It’s important that we teach our children these skills when they’re young and we can prompt and support them. That will help them to better manage the typical life stressors and anxieties that we all face as adults.
Be patient as you teach coping skills to your anxious children. It takes a lot of strength and courage for children to face their fears move past them. Praise them for their efforts and perseverance when they do face those fears. It’s worth it!
ANXIETY PREVENTION/COPING TOOLS:
Make things predictable. This helps the child avoid the anxiety that comes with the unknown.
Use routines to help your child know what is coming next.
Encourage small challenges. This may include chunking a task into smaller, more manageable pieces rather than insisting it all be done at once. You might also ask your child what he or she thinks they can handle right now, then challenge them to do that.
Specifically praise their successes. Tell them clearly and specifically what they have done right. This reinforces the specific behavior and increases the likelihood of it happening again.
Use sensory tools. We use a weighted blanket, fidget spinners, fidget cubes, a Rubik’s cube, or anything else that happens to be handy.
Cool the face. Splash some cool water on the face or set up a small desk fan.