Anxiety in students can be demonstrated in multiple ways. The typical way many teachers notice is the nervous movement just before or during a test or an assessment. We may even hear about the stomach ache the child has. However, this isn’t all. Anxiety can be a crippling diagnosis. For some students, it is so severe that school is the hardest thing for them to face. Anxiety can also be demonstrated by a high occurrence of absences, clingy behavior (for example, the middle school child that must text or call their parent regularly), disruptions in the classroom, aggressiveness and frequent visits to the nurse.
While anxiety can make school difficult for the student, there are things teachers can do in the classroom to assist them to make the day a bit easier for them.
- Students with anxiety need a safe place. This is a place they can go to and unwind when the anxiety increases. This place can be a quiet room, a counselor, another teacher, etc. The location isn’t important. It is the access to the safe place that is important.
- Notice the students physical signs of an anxiety attack. I recently was able to calm a student down because when I came around the corner I immediately saw the physical symptoms of an attack. I calmed the student and was able to send her on her way shortly after. Knowing the individual’s symptoms and way to calm them an prevent a major attack. Building the relationships with the students to recognize this behavior is important. For my student, I simply distracted her with my breathing and got her breathing at a normal rate again.
- Distractions! Any distraction can be used. During an attack, the mind if fixated on the attack. By distracting the person, you are distracting the mind. The mind is no longer allowed to be fixated on the attack. Distractions can be something in the hands, counting out of order, talking about something the person has to think about, etc. No distraction works perfect for all people with anxiety. The best way to figure out which distraction helps them the most is by asking them or simply trial and error.
These are only 3 ways. There are many other ways to help other. The sources below can offer other ways to help the anxious child within the classroom.
I enjoy hiking in the summer and traveling around the state with my 3 children and husband.