What is Anxiety in Schools and How Does It Affect Students?

Anxiety in schools is more common than most people think. If you are not careful, even your child might be facing anxiety in school, and you have no idea. It is crucial to know how anxiety presents itself and the best way to deal with it so that the student can be helped. 

Most students may end up with generalized anxiety disorder that makes it hard for them to be in school. In case of severe anxiety, some end up with learning disorders. This guide gives you more details about what to expect with school anxiety. 

What is Anxiety In Schools? 

School anxiety, also known as school refusal, is the fear or worry of attending school. It might be common for anxiety symptoms to show when a child goes to a new school, but it should not be ignored when the student has been going to the same school for years. Anxiety disorders in schools also make the students continually fear and worry about attending school every day. 

Health Canal often advises more on how to care for your health by finding ways to relieve anxiety. It is the same in students facing separation anxiety or any other anxiety type as in adults. 

Anxiety in students is a big challenge to school administrators, caregivers, and parents. It requires a team approach from all stakeholders to help students reduce anxiety and not think about school avoidance. 

Anxiety in schools can present a wide range of symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms include;

  • Stomachaches
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating 
  • Headaches 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Stomach aches etc.

The other common symptoms students might present include

  • Fearfulness
  • Sadness
  • Worry
  • Irritability 
  • Missing school more often 
  • Claiming to be sick just to stay at home
  • Having temper tantrums more often 
  • Younger children having crying spells 

How Does Anxiety Affect Students in School? 

A mental health issue such as anxiety will affect the everyday life of younger students. If you want students to have the best academic success, it is vital to understand how school anxiety affects students. Here is what mental health professionals claim might happen in the case of school anxiety. 

Restlessness and inattention 

Sometimes, you might see a student squirming in his seat or not paying attention for a long. What comes to mind is that maybe the child has ADHD. However, sometimes that is how anxiety affects kids. The student will have a hard time focusing throughout the lesson. As a result, you can expect your academic performance to be not the best. 

Also, some students may have performance anxiety because of the pressure from caregivers and parents to get the best grades.  

School refusal 

It can be surprising to see how some young adults who are students refuse to go to school. They might have common anxiety disorders, such as general anxiety disorder, but the parent is not keen on that. If they are young kids, they will not want to be away from their parents as the anxiety creates clinginess. You may have seen some students having a hard time going to class after school drop-offs. 

Disrupted sleep 

Mental health issues such as panic attacks can be added to anxiety too if the student is not getting enough sleep. An example is when the student is overwhelmed with assignments every day. It means that he has to sleep late trying to finish the assignments or sometimes worries too much about an upcoming test. Without proper sleep, the student will have low energy and might easily lose concentration while in class. 

Difficulty with socializing 

Social anxiety disorder might make the student afraid of getting into classroom discussions, presentations, and many other activities that need interaction with peers. It might seem normal that a certain student does not like socializing, but it is among the symptoms of anxiety and it needs addressing. 

Working slowly 

In a school setting, you might notice anxious students and those with common mental health disorders working slowly on almost everything. If it is taking notes, they have to keep double-checking everything. This slow pace will always hinder their education and most times can lead to missed assignments or class work. 

How to Deal with School Anxiety?

School anxiety is something that can be addressed and helps students get better. Below are ideas on dealing with school anxiety. 

Hold meetings with students

Excessive anxiety will always make the students not communicate better. However, let the teacher open up a room for talking about how they are feeling. It could be that the student has issues at home affecting their school work too. Or, the assignments are too many, and reducing them could help deal with their anxiety symptoms. 

Have a student checklist

Students with anxiety sometimes just need a hug to help them calm down. That is why it is vital to have a student checklist showing their preferred ways of calming down before something is too escalated. With this kind of information, the school administrators would also know what to change to create a safe environment for high school or college students and avoid school phobia. 

Come up with a calming corner

More anxiety may lead to a panic disorder. That is why school personnel such as teachers need to have a calming corner for their students. If a student is overwhelmed, he can use stress balls, quiches, or fidget toys to calm down rather than throwing tantrums. Teach the students about deep breaths so that they can handle their anxiety better. 

Normalize counseling  

Paying attention in class is hard when you have anxiety symptoms all over your face. It is advisable that we encourage students to seek help from a mental health professional such as the school counselor. There is nothing wrong with talking to a counselor about issues that affect you as a student. The counselors have the right tools and information to guide the students to get better. 


Research shows school anxiety is quite common and will not go away until the fundamental issues leading to it are addressed. First, the parents, teachers, school management, and other stakeholders must create an environment where the students can thrive. If the school work is strenuous, let the parents inform the teachers to improve how well the students can rest after work. The same thing applies to parents. It is about creating a conducive environment for the students to learn and develop. 

Leave a Comment