How can I help my child with school anxiety?

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  • Ask your child what’s worrying them. Focus on listening and providing emotional support, and reassure them that you can work together to make things better. You can find our tips on starting a conversation with your child here.

Think with them about changes that could be made at school, at home or in their daily routine to help them feel less worried. You can use some of the ideas we’ve listed later in this guide.

Reach out to their school as early as you can to avoid things building up. Work with their class teacher or form tutor, the pastoral team and other key staff to improve the situation.

Talk with your child about strategies that help them to express and manage their anxiety. This could be spending time with particular friends, listening to music, reading, playing sport, drawing, cooking or watching a favourite film.
Plan a regular morning routine that can be followed each day – from getting up to having breakfast, getting dressed, leaving the house and arriving at school. This will help to create a sense of security.

Consider using a worry journal if your child feels particularly anxious while they’re at school. They can carry this with them and write down a worry when it comes into their head, helping to keep anxious thoughts from becoming overwhelming.

Younger children might find it helpful to make a ‘worry box’. Decorate any kind of box such as a cereal or shoe box together, and designate a ‘worry time’ when your child will write down what they’re anxious about. Then post it into the box, close the lid and agree not to give it anymore worry time that day. If your child would find it helpful, you can also choose a time to talk through worries together.

Teenagers might find it helpful to make their own self soothe box, which they can fill with all the things that help them when they’re feeling worried. You can find a young person’s guide to making one here.

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