Archive for the ‘School Anxiety’ Category

Tampa Day School Expert Series: Anxiety

Posted on: March 9th, 2018 by North Star Marketing No Comments

How does anxiety affect your child’s education? Since we all deal with some level of worry, frustration, or fear, it’s hard for many of us to understand the very real differences between normal stress and potentially debilitating anxiety. Lois Delaney, Tampa Day School’s Head of School, unpacks the differences and explains how research-based strategies can give anxiety-prone students the confidence they need to succeed.

  1. What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stress is a natural and normal response to a challenge or circumstance and can make you feel nervous, angry, frustrated or even anxious. By contrast, anxiety is a feeling that is often out of proportion to the real or imagined threat.

  1. When does normal stress cross the line to unhealthy anxiety?

It’s true that some stress can have a positive motivational effect. However, too much stress can be detrimental! When stress becomes overwhelming or prolonged, it can take a significant toll. Anxious children may anticipate that something bad will happen and doubt their ability to handle it.

  1. How can I spot anxiety in my child?

Children do not typically say, “I’m feeling anxious.” Instead, their anxiety is usually disguised by avoiding activities that cause stress, asking for repeated reassurance, complaining of a stomach ache, headache, or racing heart, expressing that they are dizzy or tired, or having sweaty palms. Anxiety can disguise itself as boredom or apathy, sleeplessness or oversleeping, lack of appetite or overeating. In other words, there are many faces of anxiety!

  1. How does anxiety relate to other learning disabilities?

Learning differences/disabilities and attention issues like ADHD put kids at higher risk for developing anxiety disorders. Children who can’t keep up in class, who need extra help or extra time to complete work, and who make more mistakes than their classmates can begin to demonstrate symptoms of anxiety. And since fitting in is important to most children, those with social skills issues may want to join in with others but fear that they will be rejected. This can become a self-defeating cycle!

  1. What are some of the techniques that Tampa Day School has found most effective in dealing with anxiety?

Tampa Day School stresses understanding as the key to recognizing and managing anxiety in children. The TDS professionals know that treating anxiety is not simply telling kids not to worry! Instead, it’s often possible to teach students new self-talk and coping strategies so they can challenge anxious thoughts and replace them with realistic ones.

TDS is committed to ongoing professional development so staff will have the latest and best training to recognize anxiety triggers and coach students in effective coping skills.

The school’s small class size (1:12), predictable setting, and climate of trust and security all work together to help students face challenges they were not previously able to manage. If students continue to struggle, TDS works closely with families to identify an extended system of support.

  1. How can parents help a child who suffers from anxiety?
  •  Learn the signs of anxiety and stress so you can identify these feelings in your child.
  •  Understand what doesn’t work! Avoiding triggers, reassuring pep talks, telling your child to “just do it,” or giving advice typically won’t make a long-term difference for a child who suffers from anxiety.
  •  Seek professional help when anxiety hinders your child from functioning at school or enjoying life.

Offering Solutions and Hope for Parents in the Tampa Bay Area

Anxiety is treatable, but an estimated 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not getting treatment. If you are a Tampa area parent of an elementary or middle school child struggling with anxiety, check out the 2nd-8th grade program at Tampa Day School. TDS is a private school that helps children who learn differently find success.

Download our Info Packet.

Amanda’s Story- 8th Grade Girl with ADHD and Math Anxiety

Posted on: September 23rd, 2014 by plentz No Comments

There are many ways anxiety can manifest in school-age children, including difficulties separating from parents, specific fears about certain subjects (e.g., math, writing), bouts of test anxiety, stigmatizing social anxiety or generalized anxiety. It is not uncommon for these children to “keep it together” all day as model students only to “melt down” and “fall apart” the moment they hop in the car or reach the safety of their home. Symptoms can range from child complaints of headaches and stomach aches to worries/fears, school refusal, loss of behavioral control, difficulty separating from parents, and mild to severe avoidance of situations. It is critical that adults in the child’s environment understand that symptoms associated with anxiety can be debilitating and that adult and peer support play a critical role in reducing symptoms and promoting more typical functioning in the face of anxiety producing triggers.

On that note, let me introduce Amanda, a charismatic teen with a dual diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. While Amanda is an exceptionally bright and engaging young lady, it was almost painful to watch her transform from a vibrant, socially outgoing teen to a shrinking violet as she recounted the beginning of her middle school experience. Although many of us approached the transition to middle school with a balance of excitement and trepidation, we made it through without the degree of suffering and humiliation experienced by this young lady during these formative years. She claims that her life-long tendency to become distracted was further compromised in the beginning of 6th grade when she began to develop intense anxiety about math class. She candidly shared that while she agonized about going to school, her enthusiasm about her friends and the social aspects of school drove her to suppress the incredible stress and queasy stomach flutters she experienced every morning as she headed off to school. She winced as she described the fear that immobilized her when the bell rang for math class. Day after day, she “froze like a deer in headlights” during math instruction and became uncharacteristically quiet and shy until the moment she walked out of her math class. She felt stuck in a horrible cycle in that her lack of concentration and inability to think clearly resulted in missed steps and information, further compounding her ability to complete assigned work successfully. Each day, she entered the class with a desire to do better and could not understand why it was so much easier for her classmates. Her parents were aware of her math struggles though her light-hearted interactions and bigger than life smile masked her daily distress and diminishing self-esteem.

She began to crumble when classmates started to comment that she should be able to do the math or blatantly asked her if she was “stupid”. She no longer felt supported by her teacher or her peers. This exuberant young lady was losing ground-academically, socially and emotionally and began to believe that she was in fact, incapable of succeeding in math. Her mother was her saving grace-rejecting the teacher’s notion that she just needed to try harder and the school’s recommendation for special education. Amanda’s mother told her daughter she knew she was bright and capable of learning but needed an alternative approach to maximize her success. This too scared Amanda as she did not want to repeat the cycle of perceived failure in a new school. Amanda’s mother spoke with friends to identify a good-fit school that would restore her daughter’s confidence and help her to overcome her anxiety and thrive in school.

Amanda has since transitioned into Tampa Day School and as a result of the dynamics of the environment-adults who understand anxiety, small class size, a more personalized instructional approach, and an encouraging peer group-she is meeting with daily success. She hopes that her story will help others to realize that anxiety is not just something students can “push through” and that the symptoms can be truly disabling and have the potential to erode confidence and self-esteem, particularly in the school and social arenas. In a slight elaboration of her words, she hopes that teachers who read this will take the time to understand, connect with and support these students; parents will watch for symptoms and changes in self-esteem and intervene when they realize their child is struggling with anxiety; and classmates will recognize how their actions and words can impact the well-being of others.




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Jennifer is graduating in a few weeks. Something that was hard to conceive 5 years ago. A big turning point in Jen’s academic and social life was when she enrolled at Tampa Day School…we credit your great guidance and your great teachers with putting Jen back on the right track.

David and Monica, Parents of a TDS Alumna
12606 Henderson Road
Tampa, FL 33625