What Educators Should Know About Anxiety in the Classroom

Aug 31, 2017 by

Being a teacher is full of challenges, and those often include working with students who seem difficult or problematic. As most teachers realize, however, many students who seem to struggle in the classroom in various ways may have other issues they’re grappling with.

Some of the most common teachers see include learning disorders or ADHD, but there’s another less talked about issue that students may be trying to cope with and that’s anxiety.

For children, it can be difficult to express the symptoms of anxiety, and of course, there aren’t the prescription anxiety medicines available for children that there are for adults.

Instead, children have to deal with their anxiety in different ways which can make it seem like they’re lashing out or having problems with learning.

The following are some things educators should know about anxiety in the classroom.

Different Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is a general term, but there are a lot of different types of anxiety, and it can be helpful to understand them if you’re a teacher, so that you can identify symptoms.

In kids, some of the most common include separation anxiety, which can make it tough for kids to be away from their parent or caregiver, as well as social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Kids many also suffer from particular phobias, and some kids also have something called selective mutism, which is when it makes it difficult for them to communicate in certain settings.

It can also be useful to know that in many cases anxiety can manifest itself in different ways in boys versus girls. In boys, there tend to be more behavioral signs of anxiety, while in female students it may become a more internalized reaction.

Disruptive Behavior

There are so many reasons a child might exhibit disruptive behavior in the classroom, and anxiety is one of those.

For example, if a child tends to throw tantrums when another child isn’t following a routine, it could be the result of anxiety. Anxiety can also elicit aggressive behaviors, and just knowing that can be helpful for teachers as they look for ways to mitigate disruptions and help all of the students have a positive environment.

Create Relationships with Anxious Students

As a teacher, you may be the first one to spot the signs of anxiety in a student, or you may have a parent come to you about it. Either way, it can be helpful if you think a student has anxiety to work and develop a close relationship with them.

This will help you proactively identify triggers, and start to learn the best ways to help that student without making them feel as if they’re in trouble or being judged.

Finally, you can help not just your anxious students but all students by working on creating a classroom where everyone feels comfortable communicating. It may be difficult for students with anxiety to communicate how they feel or what their triggers are but you can encourage them by having one-on-one conversations and just listening to what concerns them.

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