We recently posted an article about how to help your anxious homeschooler. There is an underlying question that confuses many parents. Why is my child so anxious about school if he or she is a great student? It sometimes seems counter-intuitive to us that someone would be anxious about something that they’re good at. But that is exactly what often happens.
My son experiences this. He is a great student. He always made good grades when he was in public school, and he seems to pick up new concepts with ease. Yet his anxiety over some subjects is almost debilitating at times. Why?
The answer is relatively simple. It’s not the subject that sparks the anxiety in my son. It’s the amount of work he perceives in front of him. I tried to remind him of his past success. I tried to point out how few problems or pages were really in front of him. But I failed to recognize that the problem was not how much work he was given. The problem was how much work he perceived. If he sees a task as too large, his anxiety skyrockets. He worries about how long it will take, how hard it will be, and many other things.
Over the years, we’ve tried a lot of different things to help ease his anxiety about school work. To be honest, sometimes things work for a while and then stop. When that happens, I have to try something new. It’s worth it, though, to see that look of pride when he has overcome his anxiety, finished a task, and finished it well.
With that ever-changing strategy in mind, here are a few more anxiety-reducing strategies that you can add to your child’s toolbox.
MORE STRATEGIES TO REDUCE ANXIETY:
Make things as predictable as possible. Sometimes the anticipation of a stressful activity can be worse than the activity itself. Let your child know what the schedule will be, so he knows when the stressful subject will occur. Also, let them know what the assignment will be so that they’re not imagining something much worse than reality.
Don’t let them avoid the subject. Avoiding the subject can actually serve to encourage the anxiety since avoiding it helps the child escape the thing that is provoking the anxiety. This reinforces the chance that the anxiety will be present and significant the next time the task is presented.
Praise your child for the process. Persevering through something hard is a difficult thing to learn. We should encourage that skill in our children whenever possible. Praise your child for how hard he worked, how he stuck to it, how he dedicated himself to finishing.