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When Your Child Is Feeling Anxious at School: Helpful advice from Dr. Tom Gambino

Some very helpful advice from #psychologist Dr. Tom Gambino on what to do when your child is feeling anxious at school. -HKP

1. Listen (repeat what your child says for clarification if necessary.)

2. Share an experience when you felt nervous.

3. Create a mental toolbox (“Let’s think of something we can do to help you manage your anxious feelings.”) Common situations that may be anxious for a child include presenting in front of the class, socializing with their classmates, or asking for help from their teacher(s). Tools that may help a child during or before these situations include deep breathing (slowly breathe in through your nose and then slowly out through your mouth), thinking of positive affirmations (“I can do this,” “I will try my best,” “My best will be good enough,”) or identifying a comfort object that they can bring to school (bracelet, key chain, wearing their favorite shirt, etc.) “When you look or think of this, it will give you extra strength when you’re feeling nervous.

4. Remind your child that they can feel anxious/nervous AND give a great presentation, feel anxious/nervous AND ask for help, feel anxious/nervous AND talk with their classmates.

5. It may be necessary to contact an outside mental health professional if your child’s sleep, eating, or overall functioning is being impacted.

*If your child starts refusing to attend school, contact your school’s mental health professional or appropriate school administrator. This can include a School Counselor, School Psychologist, Vice Principal, or Principal. School avoidance needs to be addressed immediately. The faster the issue is addressed the increased likelihood of a positive outcome.”