Helping Students Manage Anxiety
Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder found in children and adolescents. Its most prominent symptom is the persistent feelings of fear and worry, but these symptoms can also lead to irritability. The presence of anxiety can greatly interfere with your student’s ability to focus and learn in the classroom. Here are ways in which you can help manage and soothe your student’s anxiety:
1. Provide positive and realistic expectations
Set realistic expectations for your student rather than expectations that can leave them feeling overwhelmed. Some of your student’s fears are completely rational, such as being concerned about not doing well on an upcoming exam. In cases like this, you can assure your student that they will be alright and that they just need to give it their best effort. It’s a more realistic goal for your student than promising that they will do well. If your student is overwhelmed by a difficult assignment, we suggest telling them, “It’s okay that this assignment is daunting. You can get through it. Do one step at a time.” Let your student know that as they overcome these hurdles, their anxiety about these tasks will decrease over time.
2. Respect their feelings
Your student may express fear over something that seems irrational or trivial to you. Some examples are nerves about going to the doctor, doing a presentation in front of the class, or even monsters in the closet. Rather than dismissing the problem and telling them that it’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s important to validate their feelings. Listen with empathy as they express their concerns and encourage them to face their fears.
3. Don’t ask leading questions
Avoid leading your student back into the cycle of anxiety by asking questions like, “Are you worried about this test coming up?” Instead, ask open-ended questions such as, “How are you feeling about this test?” Let your student identify their feelings on their own rather than prompting them towards certain answers.
4. Practice calming strategies
Teach your students different methods to calm themselves down when they start to feel anxious.
- They can try the Hot Chocolate breathing exercise. Have your student close their eyes and imagine they are holding a cup of hot chocolate. Ask them to take slow deep breaths to “smell the hot cocoa” and “cool the hot cocoa.” Let them focus on the cup in their hands. How does it feel? What color is the mug? Are there any patterns on it? As they shift their focus to this, they can slowly calm down.
- Another method your student can do is close their eyes and count slowly while taking deep breaths. Have them count until 10, then until 20, and keep going until they feel more relaxed.
5. Set an example
The strategies mentioned above can also be beneficial for you when it comes to work or any other stressors in your life. Allow your student to see you coping with stress and anxiety in these healthy ways. As they see you managing your emotions and working through them positively, it will provide them with the confidence to do the same.
At Tutoring Club, we do our best to get to know each individual student. When students present signs of anxiety, we find ways to make them more comfortable with our center as well as the work they need to tackle. We strive to boost our students’ confidence and help them reach their full potential.