Anxiety and trauma in children can be one of the many reasons for attendance failure in school. Though this can be addressed by professional counsellors and social workers, the children can also get direct school support through their teachers.
Children cannot always simply show or speak about their trauma to anyone, including the professionals. As their teacher, you are always physically present for them, and with enough love and care, this can turn into trust. With their trust, you can help reduce their anxiety in little ways.
The effects of anxiety and trauma attacks in students
When a child experiences stress because of trauma or anxiety, they will lose focus. Intrusive thoughts about the traumatic experience or source of stress may distract your student. When these disturbances continue, it can lead to them not paying attention in class, not studying for an exam, or not performing well on a quiz or other school activities.
These can impact their ability to learn and can also lead to a decreased reading ability, or worst, decreased IQ.
What teachers can do
Here are some activities you can do as a teacher to send some positive physical support to your students:
1. Learn to breathe
It is a simple tip anyone can do. Perform some breathing exercises to calm the heart and mind. Do this one on one with the student experiencing trauma or anxiety or do it with the entire class.
Deep breathing helps increase the supply of oxygen in the brain and calms the nerves in the body. Performing some breathing exercises can bring awareness back and somehow helps quiet the mind, putting the body into a relaxed state.
2. Count to ten
Slowly count from one to ten. This activity can give the mind other things to focus on besides the cause of the stress. Repeat or extend up to 20 when necessary.
3. Introduce relaxing activities
As a teacher, you can also include some relaxing activities in your class routine. It can be as simple as meditation, taking a walk within the school premises, listening to music, dancing, writing in journals, and other techniques your students can enjoy.
4. Talk to your student
The best thing anyone can do to a person experiencing panic attacks is to listen and be present. Teachers are considered the second parent of the children. The best way you can help them is to acknowledge your student’s situation, be understanding, and always be ready to help.
Caring for your student’s attendance encompasses caring for their wellbeing. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for trauma or anxiety attacks. Anyone’s healing takes time. While seeking the help of professionals is the best way to approach this situation, the teacher and the school can always help improve the situation. One way to manage it as direct school support is to stay curious, compassionate, persistent, and supportive all throughout.