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Teen Talk: Teens and School Anxiety

Posted at 9:00 AM, Aug 17, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:49:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Some teens are excited to go back to school and enjoy the experience, for others that excitement can be tempered by school anxiety and avoidance. 

So what problems may present themselves with your teen that you could be overlooking?

Family therapist Jane Marks:

School avoidance can be a very big issue for parents. When children are young it is simply a matter of children crying or clinging to parents. However, in high school if this problem has not been resolved it is typically the result of more serious conditions. It is important that parents rule out first of all any significant physiological issues. For example the presence of diabetes, thyroid issues, and anemia. These factors can certainly impact the behavior of young adolescents. Ne supportive and consistent in providing the framework and discipline as you can. Provide structure and a predictable routine and avoid being overly critical or punitive.

Problems that may be present include; 

1. Depression. In many cases this is often overlooked because so many teenagers appear critical, pessimistic, and overwhelmed. While these may be typical symptoms, certainly this needs to be ruled out.

2. School Anxiety. Teens with high levels of social anxiety often are very sensitive to how others perceive them and as such don't want to place themselves in situations where people will find fault with them in any way.

3. Gender Issues.  It is very common for some teens who are struggling with these or who have been bullied historically in their schools because of gender issues may feel tremendous anxiety about returning to school.

4. Teens that have experienced trauma may also experience high levels of anxiety . Recent deaths or divorce all contribute to school refusal.

5. Teens with learning disabilities of ADHD who have had a failing experience in the school setting will often also experience school avoidance issues.

6. Practice, practice, practice language skills. Learning to become assertive and put language on issues will serve them for the rest of their lives.  

7. Bulling. Any teen who has been repeatedly bullied in elementary, middle or high school is at risk for school avoidance.