Preparation pressure part 1: Student’s anxiety vs. parent’s anticipation


Now that school is underway and first day jitters are quelled, parents may shift their anticipation toward their child’s performance. Parents may not realize that their desire for their child to excel in school can translate into pressure being stacked up on the child.

A student’s anxiety is more than you think

The anxiety of a student is much more complicated than the fear of fitting in. The anxiety can be caused by numerous trepidations of the student. When parents attempt to shrug these fears off as miniscule or unimportant and then pile their own druthers for the school year on the child, their children can freak out even worse than before.

Jeff Bernstein, Ph.D., describes a few of the anxieties felt by students in middle school. Many of these anxieties are felt through high school and college students as well. Bernstein lists some anxieties to include:

  • Anxiety of their social status perceived by peers and themselves
  • Fear of disappointing parents or not living up to parent’s standards
  • Fear of not being understood
  • Insecurities with body image

Bernstein adds that there are a, “higher number of children and teens who struggle with everyday fears and yet do not actually have a mental health disorder.” These are common fears students face every day. Yet, parents may not realize their child holds these fears, due to a lack of communication.

Parent’s anticipation can be misunderstood

Licensed Professional Counselor, Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., gives advice for parents in helping to deal with a child’s school anxiety. One key area, Lohmann highlights is to, “Encourage your teen to talk about his/her fear and anxiety. Let him/her know that his/ her feelings are completely normal.” The child needs to understand that experiencing anxiety is a natural response to the first day of school.

Another piece of advice is to speak with the school counselor as they, “Are wonderful advocates and can help your teen make healthy transitions,” Lohmann adds. A school counselor can also help the student find a club or sport team to join that matches the child’s interest.

Lohmann brings up the fact that, “Anxiety is the body’s way of alerting us to respond to dangerous or stressful events.” Anxiety is common but can become more serious and require professional help from a therapist. Parents need to be cautious and offer support instead of pressure for the teenager.

White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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