Help, my child is scared of a school subject!


We chatted to Pretoria psychometrist Caitlin Meyer about ways to deal with this problem.

Understand the fear:

“The first thing is to determine whether your child is experiencing fear or anxiety,” she says. If your child is trying to avoid the subject it’s typically an indication of fear. If the child isn’t avoiding the subject but is stressed about it for long periods of time, they’re suffering from anxiety.

She says a child’s fear or anxiety often depends on whether they’re successful in that subject.

“Chat to your child’s teacher and find out how your child is doing in the classroom.” If there are clear signs that your child is struggling, here’s what you can do:

Get tutors who can help with extra subjects and individual attention.

Organise extra lessons and handbooks.

Provide your child with extra resources to give them a chance to master difficult subjects.

How to tackle the problem

Admit that the subject is challenging. Get your child to write down what they fear and why they find the subject difficult.

Explore the problem and help your child by changing their worried thoughts into clever thoughts, by thinking realistically about the issue rather than responding in an emotional way. Stay calm and integrate the difficult subject into your everyday routine to make it less intimidating, Meyer suggests.

“If your child struggles with fractions you could for example cut their pizza into eight slices to help them understand the concept.”

Examples such as these, which your child can identify with, should help.

Respond to the problem in a way that will help your child to respond in a healthier way. Your response sets an example for your child. Instead of becoming emotional and stressed, try to stay calm, confident and determined.

Practice is the secret to making a challenging subject easier. Teach your child that the more they’re exposed to something the simpler it becomes. You can use their favourite sport as an example to help explain how something can become simpler the more you do it.

Cailtin Meyer is a psychometrist from Pretoria. Click here to find psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health services nearby.

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