How to Recognize and Calm School-Related Stress

School Age

Most kids feel some level of stress throughout the school year. But for some, the anxiety runs deeper and might need extra attention. Learn the signs of stress and find out what to do if your child’s worries aren’t easily calmed.

What do stress symptoms look like?

Here are a few signs of stress to watch for:

  1. Finding excuses not to go to school
  2. Unexplained belly aches Sunday night or in the morning before school
  3. Withdrawal or acting out—behavior that isn’t typical of your child
  4. Headaches
  5. Irritability
  6. Frequent visits to the school nurse

How do I figure out what's really wrong?

If you’ve tried our 3 easy tips to manage stress and your child is still anxious—or even refusing to go to school—it’s time for a plan:

Talk to your child to find out what’s really making him anxious. Is it bullies? Friendship problems? A certain teacher? They miss being at home with you? Test anxiety? Homework concerns? Learning problems? If you’re still not sure what’s making your child anxious, ask his teachers what they’re observing in the classroom.

Sometimes, just talking through the problem brings stress relief.

What if his anxiety isn’t getting better?

If your child needs more support, you might want to meet with the school counselor, psychologist or school nurse. You can also work with the school to identify a trusted adult your child can go to if he’s feeling anxious.

Teach your child his own stress management techniques, like:

  • Finding things to distract him from his worries, like music, a book, a game or talking with a friend.
  • Show him how slow, deep breathing calms his mind and body.
  • Get him moving. Physical activity is a great stress reliever!