School fears and tweens

Parenting.com posted an article this week about 8 to 12 year-olds who become fearful about going to school. Dr. Jill Grimes, a family physician,  suggested that parents rule out physical causes of symptoms, and provided four suggestions to help tweens get back into the classroom:

  1. An antacid
  2. A high-fiber diet
  3. Teach the teen how to label feelings
  4. Exercise

The final two suggestions fit with psychologists’ work with families. As we’ve said over and over on the site and the show, communication is an important part of helping kids learn to deal with their emotions. For some children, it’s helpful to provide a vocabulary for talking about their fears. Parents can label what they see (“You look worried.”). For others, developing a scale to rate feelings can be valuable.

Tweens may be nervous about sharing their feelings with their teacher or other school staff members. In these situations, it’s sometimes helpful for the child to write a letter describing their concerns. Sometimes, just writing out their concerns is enough and the letter is never sent. For other students, a letter can open the lines of communication and allow the teacher and the child to begin problem-solving.

The exercise suggestion is also an important one. Recent research has shown that regular exercise can be effective in treating anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Has your tween experienced a fear of going to school? How did you help them to cope? Leave us a comment.

You can read the article here.

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Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for information only. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor.

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