Do you believe that all children worry, some constantly? With the perfectionistic culture and pressures that parents put on children these days, many kids are suffering from chronic feelings of ANXIETY.
These kids typically perform well most of the time, are very intelligent, and may even seem “fine” most of the time. However, from time to time these students will have emotional meltdowns, may be argumentative, irritable, or even aggressive. This isn’t a child with a behavior problem, immaturity, or bad parenting. It’s likely ANXIETY.
My Personal Experience with Anxiety
My own daughter, Brooke, suffered from anxiety during her kindergarten year in school. When feeling anxious, Brooke would hide and cry in a corner of her classroom. Her teacher recommended that she should be retained because she was “immature.” Luckily, however, her mom (a.k.a. me) was a school psychologist and knows the research on retention, as well as knows about anxiety and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) personalities.
When talking to my daughter, it turned out that she would get anxious because she often compared herself to others. She felt like other kids were reading better, finishing activities quicker, and had nicer looking letters and numbers.
Anxiety is always about THOUGHTS. However, we cannot ignore the stress that anxious thoughts create because it feels very big and real to kids who don’t understand the relationship yet. With more adolescents becoming scared and nervous, counselors can prepare for a number of interventions, but I believe it is important to also enlist the support of teachers and parents.
As an experienced school psychologist, I understand the significance of creating a supportive and nurturing classroom environment that promotes social and emotional well-being. Through my years of counseling, I have discovered various strategies that can greatly assist in supporting students with worry and anxiety. Here are some of these recommendations:
Establish a Calm and Welcoming Atmosphere
Teachers, are typically the first persons students see at school in the morning. Teachers are the heart of the school and can establish a welcoming and secure environment in the classroom by greeting students with a smile, fist bump, giving high-fives or creating a special greeting, and by speaking positively to them. Other ways to create a warm and calm environment include establishing a calm corner or have a mindfulness box available in the classroom for students to use for “brain breaks” or mindfulness in the classroom.
Provide a Framework and Consistency
Routine is one of the key things nervous children require! By establishing routines, setting up clear expectations, and utilizing visual aids and visual timetables, teachers can provide their classes structure and predictability. Throughout my career, I have found great success in helping teachers implement Social and Emotional Learning activities that include videos, games, and worksheets.
For an easy SEL curriculum, please check out the Summit SEL Elementary School Program for grades Tk- 6th grades. This program offers engaging activities and games specifically designed to support young learners in developing essential social and emotional skills.
Collaborate with Other Professionals
Collaboration with school counselors, social workers, other teachers, and school psychologists is crucial when it comes to supporting students with worry and anxiety. By working closely with these professionals, teachers can ensure comprehensive support for their students. In my experience fostering a strong teacher-counselor partnership can enable you to provide additional resources and assistance to students in need.
Foster Peer Cooperation
Creating peer support groups, buddy networks, or partnerships between students where they may assist one another in coping with strong emotions like worry, tension, and anxiety is another strategy that can help kids in your classroom.
Teaching students about the importance of self-care is an invaluable lesson. I always remind my students to take breaks, eat well-balanced meals, play outside, and get enough sleep to reduce stress and anxiety. To make this learning experience more enjoyable, I have created a fun game for teaching self-care skills.
Provide your ENTIRE SCHOOL with Social and Emotional Learning for grades PreK/TK through 6th grades for under $300!
The Summit SEL program is a Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum that is grade-specific and designed to provide developmentally appropriate SEL as a Tier 1 support for schools and classrooms. Each grade is divided into five essential topics that address areas of Social and Emotional well-being.
Students will have fun on their “hike” to the top of the summit of SEL Mountain every year as they learn important skills needed for success in school…and beyond!
These skills include:
- Social Skills, such as making friends, playing with others, conflict resolution, communicating with others, teamwork and collaboration, and using empathy
- School readiness and learning skills, including transitioning in the classroom, listening to the teacher, executive functioning skills, growth mindset, and academic motivation
- Emotional Regulation, including skills such as using coping strategies, mindfulness, identifying emotional triggers, and anger management
- Behavior regulation
- Improving Self-Care and Self-Esteem