School Anxiety

Gaston Molina

Medically Reviewed by Gaston Molina, Clinical Psychologist & Therapist

Understanding and Addressing School Anxiety: A Comprehensive Guide

School Anxiety


School anxiety is a common and complex issue that affects many children and adolescents. It can manifest in various forms, ranging from mild unease to severe distress. Recognizing the signs of school anxiety is crucial for parents, caregivers, and educators to provide the necessary support and create a positive learning environment. In this article, we will explore what school anxiety entails, its potential causes, and effective strategies for managing and alleviating it.

Defining School Anxiety

School anxiety, also known as school refusal or school avoidance, refers to a child’s intense fear or apprehension about attending school. It can be accompanied by physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or nausea, as well as emotional distress, including crying, panic attacks, or temper tantrums. School anxiety can interfere with a child’s ability to participate in academic, social, and extracurricular activities, and can have a significant impact on their overall well-being.

Common Causes of School Anxiety

  1. Separation Anxiety: Younger children, in particular, may experience separation anxiety when leaving their parents or caregivers to attend school.
  2. Academic Pressure: Excessive academic demands, fear of failure, or struggling with a particular subject can contribute to school-related anxiety.
  3. Social Anxiety: Fear of social interactions, including making friends, participating in group activities, or being judged by peers, can lead to school anxiety.
  4. Bullying or Peer Conflict: Negative experiences with peers, including bullying or conflict, can create an aversion to attending school.
  5. Perfectionism: A strong desire to achieve perfection in academics or extracurricular activities can lead to performance-related anxiety.
  6. Transition Periods: Starting a new school, moving to a different grade, or experiencing a major life change can trigger feelings of anxiety.

Recognizing the Signs of School Anxiety

Open Communication

Create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to express their feelings and concerns about school.

Establish a Predictable Routine

Maintain a consistent daily routine to provide a sense of stability and predictability.

Address Academic Concerns

Provide academic support, such as tutoring or additional help, if your child is struggling with specific subjects.

Foster a Positive School Environment

Encourage positive associations with school by celebrating achievements and fostering a love for learning.

Build Social Skills

Help your child develop and practice social skills to build confidence in social interactions.

Gradual Exposure and Desensitization

Gradually increase exposure to school-related activities to help reduce anxiety.

Seek Professional Help

If school anxiety persists or becomes severe, consider seeking support from a mental health professional or counsellor.


School anxiety is a complex issue that requires understanding, empathy, and proactive intervention. By recognizing the signs and addressing the underlying causes, parents, caregivers, and educators can work together to support children and adolescents in overcoming their school-related fears. Remember, each child is unique, and a tailored approach that considers their individual needs and preferences is essential for success. With patience and persistence, it is possible to create a positive and nurturing school environment that allows every child to thrive.

Gaston Molina
Medically Reviewed by Gaston Molina, Clinical Psychologist & Therapist

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