Question:How can I help my 13 year old get over her anxiety about school? She begins many days in tears and worries about being teased - not about anything specific, but her school has a pretty hostile atmosphere. Mostly she is just uneasy in large groups - we wonder if she might have a mild case of "generalized anxiety disorder," but aren't sure where to turn without making it worse.
Adolesence is a time that is often accompanied by anxiety. Kids, particularly in early adolescence, are prone to experience an "imaginary audience" where they believe that everyone is looking at them. This can be a significant source of anxiety and even more so, in a school situation where a student IS being teased or picked-on.
Here are a few thoughts for you in trying to help your daughter...
» Try to have a "heart-to-heart" discussion with your daughter about her school situation. Perhaps she is being teased or picked-on by classmates but is embarassed to share specifics with you. If you can get her to share specifics, it will give you some way to address those issues.
» Have you talked with any of your daughter's teachers / guidance counselors at school? They might have insight into what, if any, specific situations are causing your daughter's anxiety.
» Sometimes, kids act out their anxiety in other areas of their lives. So, is there anything going on in your home life which might be causing your daughter anxiety? If so, be sure to address those issues.
» Does your daughter have a supportive group of friends at school? If not, you might be able to encourage her to develop friendships and provide opportunities outside of school time to help her build those friendships. A young teenager who feels alone can be anxiety producing - in and of itself!
» Is your daughter part of a supportive youth group at church? This can be another tremendous source of spiritual and personal encouragement!
» If anxiety persists, I would suggest finding a Christian counselor in your area who can provide an initial assessment of the situation and give you some advice on how to help your daughter.
» Lastly, and quite possibly most importantly, pray for your daughter! Believe that God cares deeply about this situation and "cast your cares on Him."