Read our Top Tips for Teachers to Help Students with Anxiety
|Anxiety disorders are one of the most common and growing mental health problems amongst children. It is likely that most classes will have at least one child suffering with anxiety. Schools can be an anxiety provoking environment due to overstimulation and pressures around learning and friendships.
Our therapists have put together their top tips for opening-up conversations about anxiety and supporting children who may be suffering.
How to Help a Student Understand & Manage Anxiety in the Classroom
Help children to realise that anxiety is normal, and sometimes even helpful as the body’s response to stress. However, it should not be persistent, overwhelming or interfere with everyday life.
1. This short video provides a useful explanation of what anxiety is and its function. Fight Flight Freeze – A Guide to Anxiety for Kids.
2. Create lessons and/or assemblies on the topic of anxiety and get children used to talking about it and sharing. We reccommend utilising resources from Anna Freud. She has many useful videos including the ‘Lets Talk About Axiety Animation and Teacher Toolkit’.
3. Students may feel uncomfortable sharing their experiences in class so it can be helpful to provide opportunities to role play in character or use drawing or painting to express feelings.
4. Create a containing school environment: this might look like having consistent routines and expectations and preparing students for changes, providing calm spaces, buddy systems and access to nature.
5. Make students aware of the support provided and ensure teachers are available to talk as a first point of help.
6. Active listening and empathy: if a student does open-up about their anxiety the best response is to listen attentively with your whole body (giving eye contact, nodding, body still), reassure them that speaking about it with you was the right thing to do, and avoid trying to fix or minimise what they are experiencing. If you feel comfortable doing so, it can be helpful to share that we all feel anxious and give examples from your own life.
7. Getting children used to breathing techniques and mindfulness is a good way of keeping the nervous system regulated and practicing tools that can be used when in an anxious state.
Child in Time is able to provide workshops facilitated by one of our team of child counsellors and therapists. Get in touch to find out more.
Cosmic Kids is a good resource for Primary schools.
Take a look at Headspace for both Primary and Secondary schools.
Or Calm with Dr Julie Smith for Secondary schools.