Many physicians note that school-related stresses and illnesses often peak during the tween years as these years bring out the stresses that many children avoid or have not felt previously. When middle school begins academic pressures increase and, coupled with tweens feeling as thought they are losing control of their changing bodies, this often leads to anxiety that causes stomach and abdominal pain. These physical symptoms make it difficult for your child to withstand additional, new pressures such as social pressures. Many parents are not sure how to help their tween through this anxious time.
If your child is showing signs of school related anxiety, once you’ve ruled out signs of illness, such as fever or diarrhea, send your tween to school. The first fix for a child suffering from school anxiety, is to make them go to school. If your child protests, let them calm down but then be firm about their need to go to school and let them know that you will discuss the problem when they return from school that evening. Talking with your child about their anxiety is one great way to help relieve it, but you have to choose the right time and place. If you allow them to avoid school or shrink from their fears, then you allow them to feed their anxiety, rather than eliminate it.
Let your child know that, while you will support them as they go through this, they must go to school and face their fears. When they get home from school ask them about their day and help them focus on the positive aspects or events of the day before going on to discuss the aspects or events of the day which caused anxiety for them. If a particular class or subject is causing them to be anxious, arranging for a tutor to help them or for extra time with a specific teacher will help to alleviate their anxiety. If friends are causing your child anxiety, work with them on improving their self-confidence. These are just two of the many ways a parent might try to help alleviate their children’s fears; however, if you can’t get your child to talk about their fears and the reasons behind them, you can’t help them.
Exercise will also help to alleviate your child’s anxiety. If your child suffers from school anxiety, they need an outlet to relieve the pressures they are feeling as well as better ways to cope with the pressures of being a tween. Exercise can address both issues. Your child will benefit greatly from being part of a sports team, taking a brisk walk daily after school or from some other form of vigorous exercise. Continuing to get exercise should be a joint effort between child and parent. Plan family sporting activities activities such as canoeing or hiking to keep your child active. Pay for them to join a softball league, perhaps, or kickball team and encourage them to be physically active as often as possible. This will get rid of much of the tension and stress in their body.
Diet is another great fix for anxiety in tween age children. A tween suffering from anxiety may have some nutrient deficiencies and often will have stomach aches, constipation and other stress related, dietary tract issues. You may wish to have them see their doctor to diagnose the issue and get a plan of action to correct the issues. As well, help your tween manage these issues with a high fiber diet, antacids and plenty of fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables. This will give them more energy, cause them to feel better and help with the problems anxiety can cause the body.