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How to Help When Your Child Is Anxious About Going Back to School

my school work is overwhelming

School anxiety isn’t at all uncommon, but how can parents help?

Mother helping her kid get ready for school

Most parents can probably remember dealing with some level of school anxiety in their own childhoods. Maybe it was over a test you weren’t prepared to take. Or it could have been a disagreement with friends that left you feeling anxious about facing them in the halls.

Whatever the case may be, you may have had knots in your stomach at the thought of going to school.

Kids today experience the exact same thing, but at a level that is potentially higher than ever before.

After all, kids today have to deal with the impacts of social media seeping into their real-life social interactions. They’re facing ever-increasing academic expectations. They’re up against a rise in bullying .

And in a world that’s slowly reopening, yet still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many may also be experiencing a loss of social skills and anxiety around a return to school after over a year of online learning.

It’s no wonder that the estimated prevalence of anxiety among children ages 6 to 17 has increased over time — from about 5.5% in 2003 to 7.1% in 2016 .

Plus, evidence suggests that children and young adults experienced an increase in anxiety symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , 7.1% of kids between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety. For 2% to 5% of kids, that translates into anxiety-based school refusal — one potential result of unaddressed school anxiety.

In other words: School anxiety isn’t at all uncommon. But how can parents of kids with school anxiety help?

What is school anxiety, exactly?

There are quite a few types of anxiety that children may experience, many of which may translate into school anxiety. These include:

School anxiety can look different depending on the student’s age group.

For preschoolers, it may have more to do with separation anxiety and a fear of being away from mom, dad, or other caregivers. This may result in tantrums at school drop-off and trouble relaxing throughout the day.

By elementary school, school anxiety could be related to any of the above types of anxiety.

A student this age may not yet have developed age-appropriate social skills and may have anxiety about school as a result, or they may spend excessive time worrying about academic expectations — to the extent of not wanting to go.

Middle schoolers are beginning to develop a social hierarchy that can result in an increase in bullying and various friendship turmoil, all of which can contribute to school anxiety.

And by high school, students may be juggling problems in their home lives and within their friendships and relationships, alongside mounting responsibilities like holding down a job and trying to achieve good grades for college.

At all these ages, school anxiety may result in school avoidance and refusal.

Signs of anxiety about school

According to the children’s mental health advocacy group Child Mind Institute , school anxiety can manifest in a lot of ways. Parents and teachers may notice their students are:

For kids whose school anxiety has persisted or increased in severity, physical symptoms may appear, such as:

School anxiety can also contribute to signs of depression and isolation in the student who is struggling.

What’s causing my child’s school anxiety?

Some kids are just more prone to anxiety than others. There is a relatively high rate of heritability (30% to 67%) in anxiety disorders, for instance, so a child who has a family history of anxiety may be genetically predisposed.

Plus, a child who experiences other forms of anxiety is more likely to also develop school anxiety.

But sometimes, various circumstances at school can increase the risk of school anxiety. Some circumstances include:

I’m a parent: How can I help?

One of the most important things parents of kids with school anxiety can do is recognize the signs. If you notice your child may be struggling, talk with them about it. It may be that they will open up to you and that together, you can find a solution.

Perhaps that means developing routines to help your child better prepare for school every morning. You could look over their homework together, enjoy breakfast as a family at the table, or come up with a mantra you can chant together on the drive to school.

In the weeks leading up to school, you could help your child face their school anxiety by discussing all possible scenarios they may be anxious about and helping them to consider how best to handle those situations before they face them.

And after school, you may find it’s helpful to your child for you to be available to talk if they need it. Why not start a tradition of having an after-school snack at the table together while you discuss their day and assess together how everything went?

If you can’t help your child to work through their school anxiety on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Your child’s school administration may have resources available, and a qualified mental health professional can also help your child to identify the root cause of their anxiety and to begin to work through it, developing tools that can help along the way.

I’m a teacher: How can I help?

Teachers and educators are often uniquely situated to recognize signs of school anxiety in a child before anyone else does. That puts you in a position to reach out to the child’s parents early and discuss possible strategies for helping the child to cope with their anxiety together.

You can also help by simply being a safe place for the child to go to on days when they’re especially struggling. Perhaps you could develop a code word the child could say to let you know they’re feeling anxious.

Teachers of young children may want to consider having a “chill-out” area in their room for kids to go to when they are struggling. This could be as simple as a corner of the room that is equipped with a beanbag chair and books for the child to take a moment alone.

For older kids and teenagers, teachers can help by being a trusted adult they can talk with. When you notice signs of anxiety, you can let them know you’re available if they’re struggling.

Being empathetic and kind can help form a connection. Praising them when you’re able and letting them know you care and are there if they need you would also be helpful.

That alone could make all the difference in the world.

Let’s recap

Anxiety in general, and school anxiety in particular, is fairly common for kids. This may prove even more true in the years to come, as kids adjust to a regular routine and schedule after the pandemic uprooted all that was previously considered standard.

All that to say: You and your child are definitely not alone if this is something they’re dealing with.

Therapists, pediatricians, school guidance counselors, and administrators can all be great resources if you’re worried about your child. They don’t have to go through it alone, and you certainly don’t have to find ways to help them all on your own.

There is support available for you. You can set an example for your child of what that looks like (and how they can do the same) as you do.

Last medically reviewed on July 26, 2021

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How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

Here's what educators and parents can do to help kids find the right balance between school and home.

Does Your Teen Have Too Much Homework?

Today’s teens are under a lot of pressure.

They're under pressure to succeed, to win, to be the best and to get into the top colleges. With so much pressure, is it any wonder today’s youth report being under as much stress as their parents? In fact, during the school year, teens say they experience stress levels higher than those reported by adults, according to a previous American Psychological Association "Stress in America" survey.

Odds are if you ask a teen what's got them so worked up, the subject of school will come up. School can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to other serious problems, like sleep deprivation . According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night, but only 15 percent are even getting close to that amount. During the school week, most teens only get about six hours of zzz’s a night, and some of that sleep deficit may be attributed to homework.

When it comes to school, many adults would rather not trade places with a teen. Think about it. They get up at the crack of dawn and get on the bus when it’s pitch dark outside. They put in a full day sitting in hours of classes (sometimes four to seven different classes daily), only to get more work dumped on them to do at home. To top it off, many kids have after-school obligations, such as extracurricular activities including clubs and sports , and some have to work. After a long day, they finally get home to do even more work – schoolwork.

[Read: What Parents Should Know About Teen Depression .]

Homework is not only a source of stress for students, but it can also be a hassle for parents. If you are the parent of a kid who strives to be “perfect," then you know all too well how much time your child spends making sure every bit of homework is complete, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. On the flip side, if you’re the parent of a child who decided that school ends when the last bell rings, then you know how exhausting that homework tug-of-war can be. And heaven forbid if you’re that parent who is at their wit's end because your child excels on tests and quizzes but fails to turn in assignments. The woes of academics can go well beyond the confines of the school building and right into the home.

This is the time of year when many students and parents feel the burden of the academic load. Following spring break, many schools across the nation head into the final stretch of the year. As a result, some teachers increase the amount of homework they give. The assignments aren’t punishment, although to students and parents who are having to constantly stay on top of their kids' schoolwork, they can sure seem that way.

From a teacher’s perspective, the assignments are meant to help students better understand the course content and prepare for upcoming exams. Some schools have state-mandated end of grade or final tests. In those states these tests can account for 20 percent of a student’s final grade. So teachers want to make sure that they cover the entire curriculum before that exam. Aside from state-mandated tests, some high school students are enrolled in advanced placement or international baccalaureate college-level courses that have final tests given a month or more before the end of the term. In order to cover all of the content, teachers must maintain an accelerated pace. All of this means more out of class assignments.

Given the challenges kids face, there are a few questions parents and educators should consider:

Is homework necessary?

Many teens may give a quick "no" to this question, but the verdict is still out. Research supports both sides of the argument. Personally, I would say, yes, some homework is necessary, but it must be purposeful. If it’s busy work, then it’s a waste of time. Homework should be a supplemental teaching tool. Too often, some youth go home completely lost as they haven’t grasped concepts covered in class and they may become frustrated and overwhelmed.

For a parent who has been in this situation, you know how frustrating this can be, especially if it’s a subject that you haven’t encountered in a while. Homework can serve a purpose such as improving grades, increasing test scores and instilling a good work ethic. Purposeful homework can come in the form of individualizing assignments based on students’ needs or helping students practice newly acquired skills.

Homework should not be used to extend class time to cover more material. If your child is constantly coming home having to learn the material before doing the assignments, then it’s time to contact the teacher and set up a conference. Listen when kids express their concerns (like if they say they're expected to know concepts not taught in class) as they will provide clues about what’s happening or not happening in the classroom. Plus, getting to the root of the problem can help with keeping the peace at home too, as an irritable and grumpy teen can disrupt harmonious family dynamics .

[Read: What Makes Teens 'Most Likely to Succeed?' ]

How much is too much?

According to the National PTA and the National Education Association, students should only be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. But teens are doing a lot more than that, according to a poll of high school students by the organization Statistic Brain . In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast, some polls have shown that U.S. high school students report doing about seven hours of homework per week.

Much of a student's workload boils down to the courses they take (such as advanced or college prep classes), the teaching philosophy of educators and the student’s commitment to doing the work. Regardless, research has shown that doing more than two hours of homework per night does not benefit high school students. Having lots of homework to do every day makes it difficult for teens to have any downtime , let alone family time .

How do we respond to students' needs?

As an educator and parent, I can honestly say that oftentimes there is a mismatch in what teachers perceive as only taking 15 minutes and what really takes 45 minutes to complete. If you too find this to be the case, then reach out to your child's teacher and find out why the assignments are taking longer than anticipated for your child to complete.

Also, ask the teacher about whether faculty communicate regularly with one another about large upcoming assignments. Whether it’s setting up a shared school-wide assignment calendar or collaborating across curriculums during faculty meetings, educators need to discuss upcoming tests and projects, so students don’t end up with lots of assignments all competing for their attention and time at once. Inevitably, a student is going to get slammed occasionally, but if they have good rapport with their teachers, they will feel comfortable enough to reach out and see if alternative options are available. And as a parent, you can encourage your kid to have that dialogue with the teacher.

Often teens would rather blend into the class than stand out. That’s unfortunate because research has shown time and time again that positive teacher-student relationships are strong predictors of student engagement and achievement. By and large, most teachers appreciate students advocating for themselves and will go the extra mile to help them out.

Can there be a balance between home and school?

Students can strike a balance between school and home, but parents will have to help them find it. They need your guidance to learn how to better manage their time, get organized and prioritize tasks, which are all important life skills. Equally important is developing good study habits. Some students may need tutoring or coaching to help them learn new material or how to take notes and study. Also, don’t forget the importance of parent-teacher communication. Most educators want nothing more than for their students to succeed in their courses.

Learning should be fun, not mundane and cumbersome. Homework should only be given if its purposeful and in moderation. Equally important to homework is engaging in activities, socializing with friends and spending time with the family.

[See: 10 Concerns Parents Have About Their Kids' Health .]

Most adults don’t work a full-time job and then go home and do three more hours of work, and neither should your child. It's not easy learning to balance everything, especially if you're a teen. If your child is spending several hours on homework each night, don't hesitate to reach out to teachers and, if need be, school officials. Collectively, we can all work together to help our children de-stress and find the right balance between school and home.

12 Questions You Should Ask Your Kids at Dinner

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It's easy to get stressed in college, but knowing what resources you have at your disposal is crucial. (Image via Pixabay)

College x january 7, 2019, overwhelmed with schoolwork get some help, whether it’s an impossible assignment, impending deadline or indecipherable text, you have options., by daniel reed.

Worried about an upcoming homework assignment? Wish you had somebody who could help you or double-check your work? If so, don’t stress: almost every college student, at some point in their scholastic career, has found themselves in a time-management crisis.

Luckily, if you opt to use an essay writing service available online, you’ll be able to get the support you need to finish your homework or complete that assignment. A good service will be able to walk you through an assignment that you’re having trouble understanding, as well as do your assignment for you and have it ready by due date if need be.

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Before you think about working with one, though, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

What can they help with?

If you work with the right company, they can help you with all kinds of assignments, such as academic essays, homework, research papers, writing assignments for various subjects — even accounting homework help — foreign languages, science, etc.

How should you choose a service to use?

There are thousands of assignment writing service providers available, and not all of them are genuine. However, certain factors can help you judge the quality of the assignment writing service provider.

Reviews: It’s more helpful to scour customer reviews than to read the literature a company uses to market itself. Look at reviews on the website, or even ask your friends which providers they’ve used if you want a referral.

Quality of assignment: More than anything, your final grade depends on the quality of material you turn in, so look for an assignment writing service whose standards are up to your own. Make sure, also, to avoid plagiarism, which can ruin your academic career.

On-time delivery: It doesn’t matter how well a piece is written if you don’t get it by deadline. So, when you’re trying to parse out which service provider to go with, scope out their delivery options and see if you can get the assignment far in advance, as doing so will help you avoid any of the headaches that can arise as deadlines close in.

Expert personnel : If you need your assignment to be high quality, it’s imperative that it be written by a professional. A talented professional writer can expound on any subject, whether you need physics, accounting, math, foreign language or finance homework help . Their writing will be unique, and it will work perfectly for you.

To find the best company, it also helps to search relevant phrases, such as best assignment service providers, write my essay for me online , best homework help, etc.

Who can use assignment service providers?

Anyone can use these services, regardless of what they study. Assignment writing services make sense for anyone who has a lot to do in a short period of time, anyone who wants to spend their time on something outside of school or anyone who is struggling to understand the material. In addition to these reasons, other factors might lead you to use a service, such as:

Unfamiliar language: To write, it’s important to understand the language you have to use for your essay. If you are an international student or recent immigrant, writing an essay in a foreign language — or even just doing reading-based homework — can be difficult.

Poor at math: Not everyone is great at everything. If you find yourself out of your depth in a math class that you need to pass, you could benefit from professional help.

Overextended: From time to time, you will simply have too much to do in too little time. In those situations, it can be next to impossible to get everything done promptly and at the appropriate quality level. If you find yourself in one of these situations, online services might be the solution.

Essay services, if used properly, can make your life better and help you through rough patches at school. If you need to, you can use services like essay help online to produce high-quality writing that will meet any requirements you have. In addition, you can also get materials like research papers, articles, etc., for homework and at-home assignments, meaning you never have to feel overwhelmed by school again.

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5 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Workload

my school work is overwhelming

Start tracking your time to figure out how much you’re actually working.

If you have moments of feeling overwhelmed by your workload, start with some deep breathing and healthy self-talk, like saying to yourself, ”Even though I have many things to do, I can only focus on the one thing I’m doing right now.” Then start tracking your time to figure out how much you’re really working, and and how you’re spending your time. Your behavior will naturally shift in positive directions due to this monitoring. Third, check your assumptions with others — does your boss really expect an immediate reply? Does your colleague really need that report done today? Next, test your own assumptions about success requires: are they realistic? Finally, change your behavior. Changing your behavior is the best way to change your thoughts. For example, try flipping “When I’m less busy, I’ll create some better systems” into “When I create better systems, I’ll feel less busy.”

Do your to-do lists stretch on and on — and on? Do you dread checking email on Friday afternoons, worried about seeing messages piling up when you’re just trying to get out the door? Or maybe you’ve noticed that anxiety is preventing you from concentrating on whatever you’re currently doing. You might feel anxious that you’re not working during times that are incompatible with working, like when you’re buckling your child into their car seat or you’re stuck in traffic. You may even feel anxious about the project you’re not working on when you’re busy plugging away on something else.

If you have moments of feeling overwhelmed by your workload, here are some suggestions to try.  Not all of these will be right for everyone, so pick what you think will help you. But always, always start with taking slow breaths (it’s better to focus on slow rather than deep breathing). Slow breathing helps you stop panicking and take a more long-term focus as it activates the brain’s prepare-and-plan mindset. If you focus on breathing out like you’re blowing up a balloon slowly, your breath in with naturally regulate itself.

Practice your acceptance skills with healthy self-talk

The best self-talk helps you feel calmer and in control. It combines self-compassion and appropriate responsibility-taking (not too much, not too little). Feeling excessively responsible is associated with a vulnerability to worry. Experiment with different types of self-talk and see what works best for you. As a kickoff, you might try:

Track your time to give yourself an accurate baseline

There’s some evidence from research comparing time tracking data to self-reports that people who say they work very long hours are generally overestimating. Large-scale research indicates that the proportion of people working over 60 hours per week is quite small, at around 6% . If you’re saying to yourself “I work 70 hours a week” your brain will react as if that were true, even if it’s an exaggeration.

How does this thinking error arise? Sometimes our brains jump to conclusions based on our emotions. When you feel anxious about work, your brain will overestimate how much you’re working, which in turn makes you feel more anxious and sets up a self-perpetuating cycle. When your perception of your workload is dramatically overblown, the situation feels hopeless, which will likely leave you feeling depressed as well as anxious and you’ll become avoidant.  You won’t take the practical steps you could to address your situation. If you’re making this estimation error, don’t take it too personally. This is a pervasive general pattern and not a personal flaw.

Try tracking your time for a single week. There are online tools for this, but you can also use a spreadsheet or just a notebook. Track your time without actively attempting to change your behavior. Your behavior will naturally shift in positive directions due to monitoring, so there’s no need to force it, at least initially. (Laura Vanderkam gives great tips of how to go about doing this and how to categorize your data in her book, 168 Hours .)

Limit brief work-related activities during non-work time, like checking your phone or firing off a quick email. Objectively these activities may only take a few minutes, but this pattern can feel like it consumes more time than it actually does, so curb these behaviors.

The flip side is that small bursts of meaningful non -work activities can help your life feel more balanced. For example, if I crouch down and look my two-year old in the eye when we’re having a moment together, those seconds give me a sense I’m doing more quality parenting, even though it’s a few minutes here and there. Five minutes of uninterrupted conversation feels more meaningful than 10 minutes of scattered attention.  

Check your assumptions about other people’s expectations

We often self-generate rules we expect ourselves to follow. For example, “I need to reply to Sandra more quickly than she generally replies to me.” Or, “I need to reply to any email within the day.” Consider that when people take a while to respond, it sends the signal that they’re busy and prioritizing, and may lead to other people respecting their time to a greater extent.

One of my pet peeves is receiving “to do” emails on Friday afternoons — my fear is that if I don’t complete whatever is needed over the weekend, the early part of the following week will fill up and the person who emailed me will be left waiting for me to finish whatever it is I need to do. However, it’s worth considering that whoever contacted you as they were running out the door from work might not want a response during the weekend. Replying immediately to after-hours emails contributes to the always-on cycle for everyone.

Examine your assumptions about what success requires

On a similar theme, you might also be self-generating faulty thoughts about what it takes to be successful in your field.  Perfectionistic assumptions like, “To succeed I need to work harder than everyone else” become especially problematic when you’re rising through the ranks in a competitive industry and you’re in a group of other overachievers. Here’s the tricky part about identifying your problem thoughts: our assumptions and self-generated rules are often implicit. When you’re feeling miserable or blocked, that’s a great time to hunt down any hidden assumptions that are contributing to that.

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my school work is overwhelming

The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time

Pressure Doesn’t Have to Turn into Stress

Look out for assumptions that cause unnecessary stress, especially if these also contribute to procrastination and paralysis. For example, to get unstuck with writing I sometimes need to remind myself that whatever I’m working on only needs to be a useful resource and doesn’t need to include everything there is to say about a topic (which would be impossible and unwieldy).

Write out your problem assumptions and a more realistic alternative. Your realistic alternative thought could be something like “Given that my workgroup is comprised of high achievers, there is a good chance that most of us in this group will be successful. Therefore I don’t need to perform at the very top of the group in order to achieve success.” Constructing more realistic alternative assumptions is part science and part art. Experiment with different types of thinking to see what feels most true and most helpful to you personally.

Start taking time off now instead of waiting for the “right” time

When you take an evening or weekend day off and the sky doesn’t fall in, you learn experientially that you can be less anxious about your workload.  If you want to feel more relaxed about work, act more relaxed about it.

You can operationalize this however you want. Ask yourself “If I were  more relaxed about my workload, how would I act?” and identify 3-5 specific ways.

A classic catch-22 in psychology is that people wait for their emotions to change before changing their behavior. However, changing your behavior is probably the best and fastest way to change your emotions (and thoughts). When you start tuning into it, you will probably notice the pattern cropping up again and again. For example, try flipping “When I’m less busy, I’ll create some better systems” into “When I create better systems, I’ll feel less busy.” This approach will help you combat the pervasive self-sabotaging pattern of being too busy chasing cows to build a fence .

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    my school work is overwhelming

  2. What I do to my school work

    my school work is overwhelming

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    my school work is overwhelming

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    my school work is overwhelming

  5. Young Student Overwhelmed With Studying Stock Image

    my school work is overwhelming

  6. Students Spend More Time on Homework but Teachers Say It's Worth It

    my school work is overwhelming


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  1. School Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, Helpful Tips

    failing to turn in homework. keeping to themselves at school rather than socializing with other kids. For kids whose school anxiety has persisted or increased in severity, physical symptoms may ...

  2. Why Am I Feeling Unmotivated? Take Back Control At School

    If your feelings of overwhelm are due to feeling pressured, taking the pressure off might reduce the feelings of overwhelm. You can try to do this by practicing affirmations, taking a break to focus on yourself, or splitting the tasks into manageable workloads. This process might mean moving the task to another day when you feel better.

  3. How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

    In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast ...

  4. 5 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Workload

    The study, led by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College, shows that although students who spend more time doing homework are sometimes more behaviourally engaged in school, they also tend to be more anxious, and report more physical symptoms due to stress.