This is a story from one of our tutors at Chicago Academic.
"When my wife Sarah was in middle school she went home sick almost every day for a year. You see, after arriving to class each morning she would quietly ask to see the school nurse and before you knew it she'd be hanging over a garbage can, puking her guts out. Now, typically, this kind of behavior might warrant a real concern for someone's health but, as Sarah would later explain as an adult, she wasn't actually sick all those times."
A Regular "Jamie" Dean?
In fact, she now jokes that her daily visit to the nurse was all part of an elaborate plot. "School is for dweebs" after all, and it would seem that my wife was a regular James Dean. "That's right," she now explains, "I was a full-blown rebel without a cause!"
"Needless to say, it's easy to joke about those days, now. But the truth is, middle school was a difficult time for Sarah and (as her parents will gladly attest) she wasn't anything like James Dean."
You see, it was during the seventh grade that my future wife--a gangly, four-eyed, metal-mouthed young girl with pimples--was abandoned by her long-time friends. A group of girls who themselves had blossomed, earning a place in the 'cool' crowd. It seems that Sarah didn't exactly fit in, her friends wanted nothing to do with her. And the very thought of school now filled her with anxiety. No, Sarah wasn't actually sick, but neither was her daily visit to the nurse a laughing matter. For the first time in her life, Sarah felt worthless and alone.
Like so many young people, she was battling with school-related anxiety. And while periods of awkwardness and low self-esteem are a natural part of growing up, missing school can result in poor academic performance, adversely affecting your child's long-term attitude toward education. At Chicago Academic, several of our students are like Sarah, and we help them overcome their school anxieties and develop a positive attitude toward learning.
Without the proper treatment, these growing pains can leave scars that stay with your children the rest of their lives. To this day, Sarah wonders if she might have accomplished more academically had she only developed a healthier attitude toward school.
What To Watch Out For
So, how do you know if your child has school-related anxiety or depression?
Does your child refuse to go to school, or spend day after day in the nurse's office? Does your child's symptoms seem to vanish over the weekend or once they get home from school? These are the main signs that he or she may be suffering from school-related anxiety or depression.
Physical symptoms include headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your child might also experience drastic changes in behavior: becoming defiant, inflexible, or extremely apathetic before leaving for school in the morning.
Cause and Effect
The truth is, your child's anxiety can be caused by any number of things. For example, he or she might fear a fellow student, a teacher, or a particular social situation. In Sarah's case, it was the fear of not belonging, and having to face her former friends in the classroom or hallways.
But, for many kids, academic pressures and the possibility of failure are the determining factor. And this is exactly what we battle with our tutoring services at Chicago Academic. We have specific methods we develop for students that includes how to deal with test taking troubles and we also specialize in students who may have already fell behind because of struggles with either anxiety or depression.
That said, symptoms usually accompany times of transition, such as a change in schools, problems at home, or even physiological changes, like puberty. Being aware of how these transitional periods impact your child may help pinpoint the source of his or her stress.
What to Do, What to Do
Seeking out a guidance of a mental health professional, such as a social worker or school counselor is an excellent first step. An even better first step - talking with your child about the challenges they face, in a friendly, understanding manner. Remember that it's been awhile since you were 12.
School can be a difficult place, and the stress it causes some children can have a lasting impact on their social and educational development. You might say Sarah was lucky since eventually, middle school ended, and she went on to enjoy fruitful careers in both high school & college. But even Sarah suspects that those lonely days in the seventh grade might have negatively impacted her longterm success.
We work to relieve this stress not only from students, but also on the whole family. Our tutors have dynamic techniques that we guarantee will give your child the confidence they need to succeed.
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