Our students are sometimes anxious and worried. It’s natural especially that uncontrollable situations are on the rise. Or it can happen even with simple usual routines in the classroom like having tests and oral recitations. However, they should be dealt with properly.
Being conscientious as a teacher means showing genuine care to students. The more you show concern, the more comfortable your students are, especially those who are struggling with anxiety. For those encountering this situation, you’re on the right page because today I will be dishing out my detailed ways of what can I do to help students with anxiety.
According to The Mental Health Foundation, “the world of young children can be a frightening and uncertain place, as can that of adolescents, who are facing a time of rapid physical and emotional change.”
Anxious kids need support. They may have any of these actions: difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, always moving around, are not performing the tasks, get low scores, don’t participate in the interactive discussion, and many more. Anxiety appears in various ways. Students experiencing it seek care and help.
Being the entrusted person in school, you as a teacher have a deep-seated role of considering how your students are feeling. You need to help them. Hence, let’s be on the same plate to help our students who are experiencing these challenges.
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Common Anxiety Symptoms
Fast heartbeat. Sweating. Stomach aches. Extremely shy and timid. These are easily recognized anxiety symptoms, while others need to be unearthed because they are kept hidden and unknown. Should we teachers be concerned about it? It’s a big yes! They are under our care when they are in school, so somewhat we can be their carers after all.
It’s more effective if we can identify the red flags of our students’ behavior. Since anxiety is real and it can happen to anyone, sticking to your goals of improving students’ performance and promoting quality student learning should be your biggest concern.
Help them out from being anxious.
It’s normal for us to respond to certain situations with anxiety but if it happens all of the time it’s another story. However, as teachers, even though we are not from the medical field, by being aware of the symptoms, we can help break the thread of anxiety in our students at an early stage.
It’s just a matter of being human after all.
When students tend to be anxious during oral recitations or examinations, it’s a normal thing. It’s how they respond to that particular situation especially when they are not ready or haven’t prepared best for the examinations.
They might worry about getting low scores or not passing the performance tasks at all. It worries them.
Accordingly, there are certain situations when our students experience fear and worries. When they are called to perform individually and it can be a very difficult situation for them, it may cause their brain to release more stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
When this happens, we can see them perspiring a lot, their hands are shaking and they are stammering. It seems that they have trouble concentrating at all.
Furthermore, our students may show different anxiety symptoms which we should be aware of. Physical symptoms such as sweating, dry mouth, shaking, lack of energy, uneasiness, trembling, and many others can be easily observed.
But there are symptoms that are hidden. Mental symptoms, for example, are hard to get known. Therefore, we should be more sensitive towards our students and double-check our actions too.
Because we might not know that our students get nervous and anxious about raising our voice or of the classroom rules being implemented.
What Can I Do to Help Students with Anxiety? 10 Dynamic Tips
Anxiety can happen to everyone and our students can fall prey to this natural occurrence. It’s the activity of the brain and the whole nervous system.
Let’s embrace the fact that each one of us feels anxious in some way. That way makes it easy for us to treat it or lessen its effects.
As teachers, we have to be very sensitive to what our students feel and should closely monitor their actions. Our roles don’t just cater to being dispensers of knowledge and facilitators of learning. It should also signify being so considerate to our students’ well-being.
Keep reading and get important details on how to help our students with anxiety. They need it today. These constructive tips can help you uncover their real feelings and can make you extend the most appropriate help they need.
This may help students pacify their anxiety and perform better. We can never stop them from being anxious for they are just humans after all. All we can do is to help them manage their anxiety.
1. Give preliminary exercises
I’m doing this in my class and my students like it. Before we begin our journey for the day, I make my students breathe in and breathe out. The stretching we make can help to calm their muscles and to cease out tensions that they might have while at home.
Also, get students into some breathing techniques. Ask them to take a deep breath and show them how. Join them as they breathe in and out. Doing this can help kids stay calm and attentive.
At times, I make students enjoy class games. So, I take care of my motivational techniques. I should make them comfortable right from the start so they will enjoy the series of activities throughout the day.
I have to think of some appropriate physical activities for my students so they’ll never feel restless or bored. I have to excite them. These actions can help students, especially those who are feeling low.
Another pointer is using engaging pre-reading activities. This will not make students get ready for the reading activity but will also keep them engaged and have a full grasp of what they read. Having short conversations or a simple question-and-answer motivation technique can help.
2. Interact with your students and listen to their stories
Talk with your students. Be empathetic. Ask them and listen to them. This will not only deepen your bond but will also make them feel a lot more comfortable.
Encourage students to relate to the story in your reading activity and allow them to share their stories as well. This can make them feel better. Just listen and show concern. Establish eye contact so they will feel the connection.
There can be students in your classroom who are really overwhelmed with certain situations. Get near them and interact with them. Make the classroom congenial so your students have nothing to worry about. Never reprimand them if they ask questions out of their curiosity. Always be nice while maintaining classroom norms and expectations.
3. Share a motivating story
Some kids struggle with anxiety because of very low self-esteem. It will affect their well-being which will eventually affect their performance. In the long run, if these kids are not dealt with properly, they will succumb to distress.
Although kids may not precisely experience the same kind or degree of anxiety, sharing a motivating story really counts. This will make them feel that they are capable of doing great things if they try.
At certain moments, kids can feel terrible about themselves which can be caused by either their surrounding environment or the situations at home. Maximizing their potential by letting them see other’s great examples of conquering fear and low self-esteem can help them feel at ease.
4. Give students a break
Provide a free period for your students to refocus. Break the monotony in the classroom otherwise, your students will get bored to death and they won’t concentrate anymore. Allow your students to relax.
If they want to scribble or sing, just let them be. If talking with their seatmates or classmates can make them feel better, then you allow them to do so. Besides, it’s part of developing their social skills in the classroom. But, it doesn’t mean that they are allowed to scream and shout at the top of their lungs.
It just means that they are having a 5-minute break or so, but they still have to observe proper decorum in the classroom. Having short breaks in the classroom can help kids reduce stress and heighten brain function.
Remember, our instructional delivery will be unproductive if the students are unfocused. So, set your schedule and design short breaks throughout the day.
5. Be more patient with kids
Kids are sometimes disruptive or attention-seeking. They are more evolved than what we think of them. This can be a result of them being anxious. As teachers, we should know how to take care of this situation accordingly.
Patience is a virtue. Certainly, being patient is one of the qualities of great teachers. And we can be too.
Working with kids requires more than a truckload of patience. Scolding them won’t work. It can even make them feel less if done intensely. It takes some kind of constructive attitude in dealing with the unpredictable attitudes of children.
If you are patient, you can always do the right things like building rapport with them and establishing a safe and accommodating learning environment.
Play with them and sit with them on the floor. Experience their happiness and feel their joy. Laugh with them as they enjoy touching and playing with the educational toys you prepare for them. Surely, they’ll love it!
Your high level of patience can help students with anxiety.
6. Impose constructive discipline
Be constructive in your ways of imposing discipline on your students. Berating the is a no-no. Never spill harsh words on the floor.
Using positive discipline techniques in the classroom will help students be mindful of their actions. The good point is, it can help reduce stress for both of you.
Students misbehave for various reasons and being anxious can be one of them. Moreover, understanding them is quite helpful. We have to reconsider the ‘why’. Why does he or she display unwanted behavior?
If, for example, a student doesn’t submit the required assignment, it isn’t right to make our judgment right away and give punishment. Perhaps something happens or anything goes in the way.
Again, never include punishment in your row of constructive disciplinary techniques. It can be very draining or detrimental on the part of the students which can worsen their feelings of anxiety and uneasiness.
Having consistent classroom expectations and setting rules right at the beginning of classes will guide students’ actions and strengthen good behavior.
7. Allow students to fidget for some time
Yes, it’s fidgeting time. I always have some kinds in my educational toys’ box. The educational toys you have in the classroom can foster a productive learning environment if they are used accordingly.
Also, you just have to carefully choose the most effective fidget toys in the classroom so students will get more from them instead of getting more stressed.
Fidgeting can help students focus. They just manipulate fidget toys while sitting but it should be done for some time and not all of the time.
There are a variety of fidgeting solutions available to help relieve stress and anxiety. Like in my classroom, stress balls, slap bracelets, stuffed-toys, are among the most popular hand fidgets I let my students use. These squishy and calming sensory items have done a great deal in helping my students refocus and manage anxiety.
8. Motivate students to do their best and that failing is normal
Trying to be perfect at all times can be frustrating, especially if competition abounds in the classroom. This can absolutely cause anxiety in students. One way or another, these kids do things to get our attention or to be recognized.
They are not doing it for themselves. With this misconception, they get anxious and so conscious of they don’t meet expectations.
Tell your kids that failing is normal and that they should do things naturally. More likely, students will do better because they will strive harder by believing in themselves more.
By making students understand that it’s okay to fail sometimes will free them from overwhelming pressure in the classroom. Moreover, motivating them to do their best can also help build their confidence and can positively impact their academic achievement.
9. Let them feel reassured that they are cared for
Show the kids that you are deeply concerned with their situation. Our actions really matter as our students look up to us as their most trusted adults in the classroom. In fact, it’s an opportunity for me to be trusted by these kids.
Once we build a caring relationship with our students, they will feel better and they set that as a great example to emulate. How we make our students feel in the classroom will remain in their hearts and minds forever. They will remember more about how we treat them even though they proceed to another level in their education.
So, if your students are uneasy, too timid, shaking, and feel anxious, assure them that you understand how they feel and that they can trust you indeed.
10.Coordinate with parents
Connect with parents. Ask them if their children’s behavior at home is somewhat parallel to what kids show in school. Personally, I involve the parents when it comes to the behavior management of my students, especially the most intense ones.
I really feel the need to know my students more. The more I do it, the more I understand my students’ actions. Also, it’s my way of designing an intervention for my students’ anxiety.
I always have my anecdotal record to keep track of my students’ behavior which the parents are aware of.
Anxiety in kids should not be intense. Otherwise, it will totally be a different story. Our being compassionate towards them can make a difference.
Moreover, knowing what to do and what not to do is important so we can really help our students with anxiety. When our students are anxious, it can be very transparent in their actions but others need to be delved into. Therefore, what we need to have is utmost patience and understanding.
We can be anxious too so we definitely know how these students feel. By being in their shoes, we can design class activities to help them cope up with stress and anxiety. Respecting how they feel can also them break from the cycle of anxiety.
Perhaps you have some more constructive tips to help our students with anxiety. You can drop them below and together let’s help our students free from their anxious minds and manage anxiety.