How to make school easier for the unsettled child
- Pair anxious children with friendly, helpful classmates who will encourage them to participate.
- Change can frighten anxious children, so ensure consistency wherever possible.
- Make sure that rules and sanctions are consistent across the school. For example, all teachers should give detentions for swearing, rather than one giving detention and another giving extra homework.
- Appreciate that anxiety can impede academic performance, even in bright pupils.
- Praise or reward those pupils who try something outside their comfort zone.
- Never humiliate pupils for making mistakes.
- If children are unable to take part in an activity, offer an alternative. But ensure this alternative is boring rather than pleasurable.
- Have clear policies about bullying.
- Do not ignore children's fears: allow them to talk about them.
- Avoid speaking about your own fears in class as this can add to children's anxiety.
- Speak positively to pupils about new situations and people.
- Because anxious pupils are difficult to identify, it is best to ensure that the overall ethos is designed to minimise anxiety.
Source: Dr Samantha Cartwright-Hatton.