5 Reasons Why Children Often Feel Anxious at School

As a parent, you should have a particularly strong focus on looking out for your child’s mental health. Today, children face a lot of stressors in their everyday life. From the media that they consume to the interactions that they have, their exposure varies drastically. Moreover, it’s not always positive. Based on their experiences, students can develop anxiety in school. This can affect their sense of self, personal growth, social development, and academic progress.

This blog will help you understand why children often feel anxious at school. We’ll also walk you through the measures that must be taken to help students have a positive learning experience, one that isn’t riddled with feelings of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and confusion. Continue reading, and feel free to take notes. If you have any questions pertaining to your child, feel free to drop a comment towards the end. Let’s get started.

1. School Bullying

a student being bullied by her peers

According to the BBC, a fifth of students in the UK have been victims of bullying. School bullying is common across the globe, especially in the UK. Since it’s more cosmopolitan, the UK is also known for racially-motivated bullying. Whether students are targeted for their race, appearance, religion, culture, behavior, speech, dressing, or any other characteristic/social marker, they can be deeply affected.

The effects of bullying aren’t just temporary. In many cases—depending on the frequency and severity of bullying—these effects can persist for several years, perhaps even decades. School bullying often results in students developing anxiety. They may feel anxious attending school. Over time, they may refuse to go to school. This can be puzzling for parents as they may struggle to understand what their child is struggling with. Anxiety can start afflicting students as young as 7.

Make sure you develop a close bond with your children as a parent. They should feel comfortable and safe opening up to you about their experiences at school. This parent-child dynamic isn’t easy to establish. However, it’s possible. We strongly recommend being empathetic and supportive at all times. Even if your child does something frowned upon, don’t rebuke them. Maintain your support while helping them understand why their actions or words were inappropriate or unsuitable. This is imperative.

When parents are continually harsh (verbally, emotionally, or physically), children begin to develop signs of anxiety. They begin to lose self-confidence. This also makes them an easy target in school. Children don’t know how to defend themselves as they haven’t been taught how to exercise their agency by their parents.

If your child is bullied in school, they should at least receive ample support at home. If both avenues are detrimental to children, they may develop greater anxiety. Make sure you’re supportive and reassuring. This will go a long way in helping your child feel more comforted.

2. Teachers Who Lack Empathy

a teacher delivering a lesson

Teachers play a big role in helping students have a positive schooling experience. However, this isn’t always the case. Today, most conventional (in-person) schools have a particularly high student-teacher ratio. In some schools, as many as 30 students are taught in a single classroom. There are simply too many students in the class for the teacher to manage effectively. Teachers often feel exhausted and burned out.

Unfortunately, students bear the brunt of their frustration. If a teacher lacks empathy, they may lash out at students, play favorites, and make the learning environment more hostile for certain students. As a parent, make sure you’re extremely selective when choosing the right school for your child. Shortlist at least three institutions and start the questioning process.

Ask your friends and family for insight. Have their children attended the schools you’re interested in? Are the children happy with their teachers? Is their academic growth on track? Do the children enjoy a healthy school-life balance? As you receive answers to these questions, you’ll better understand which institutions are right for your children.

At Cambridge Home School Online, we have a team of MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers on board. They’re provided extensive training before their tenure. Our education specialists help students understand how to deliver focused, engaging, and retentive lessons while retaining empathy at every step of the way. Our teachers are understanding, supportive, and patient. They affirm, reassure, and motivate students. It’s important to understand that parents play a big role in shaping students’ mindsets.

If teachers lack empathy, children may believe that they’re lacking in some way. This can cause feelings of anxiety. If you believe that your child is being taught by teachers who lack empathy, we recommend requesting an urgent parent-teacher consultation. If little to no action is taken following the meeting, consider switching schools. This should be your last resort. However, if it comes to that, don’t hesitate to take that step to protect your child’s mental health and well-being.

3. Self-Doubt

a student completing his coursework

We highlighted self-doubt in the preceding section. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at how it connects to anxiety. Children can easily develop self-doubt when they don’t receive the reassurance they need growing up. Children have this expectation from their parents, family members, friends, and teachers. If any one of these groups falters (so much so that they criticise children instead of encouraging them), the effects can be extremely negative.

Children who are continually criticised for anything ranging from their academic performance to their appearance often develop feelings of anxiety. This correlation has been proven time and time again. According to ACAMH, adolescents with low self-esteem are 1.6 times more likely to suffer from anxiety. Understanding the overlap between self-esteem and anxiety can help parents take the right measures to undo the damage.

The conventional UK schooling system is recognised for creating an environment that triggers self-doubt in children. As stated earlier, most conventional schools have a high student-teacher ratio. Teachers fail to provide individualised attention to students owing to the high number of students in class. It becomes impossible for them to engage with each student one-on-one. This often makes children question their abilities.

Children naturally enjoy the attention. If they perform well, they expect recognition and praise. If they aren’t provided the reassurance they’re actively seeking, they may feel inadequate. Students may develop a social anxiety disorder. If the levels of neglect continue or gradually increase, the magnitude of anxiety can increase.

As a parent, you shoulder the responsibility of weeding self-doubt from your child’s life. Try to understand whether your child’s school promotes self-growth in them or inhibits it. If you suspect the latter, switch to an institution with a low student-teacher ratio. This is a great way to ensure that your child receives the attention they deserve from their teachers. Your child will not feel neglected.

At Cambridge Home School Online, we maintain a low student-teacher ratio. Our MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers deliver lessons to pupils in small groups of 8–10. We don’t exceed this range under any circumstances. By reducing the number as much as possible, we ensure that our teachers can be attentive, focused, involved, and present.

We tackle teacher burnout to ensure that our students have the most effective online schooling experience possible. This approach has been extremely helpful. Since our inception in 2002, we have heard back from many parents who have recognised our efforts to reduce the risk of anxiety in students.

According to a parent who reached out to us last year, “My daughter used to feel very anxious at school. Her teachers tried helping her as much as they could, but she still struggled to open up in class and enjoy her lessons. She would feel out of place and told her she didn’t like school. We homeschooled her the next year but struggled to manage it well.

Our family friend told us about Cambridge Home School, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Emma has been attending online classes with CHS for the past two years, and she doesn’t feel anxious anymore. Her teachers are supportive, her peers are reassuring and helpful, and she loves her lessons.

CHS does a fantastic job of making the lessons more fun and exciting. This is also partly why she’s so happy. It’s because she’s enjoying her classes so much. I’m not sure exactly what helped turn things around for Em, but our best guess is that it was a combination of efforts.”

This testimonial perfectly encapsulates our efforts. We work on a range of factors to make online schooling more safe, enjoyable, engaging, and gratifying for students. They don’t feel overburdened and anxious. At the same time, our schooling approach is rigorous enough to ensure that students secure top grades.

In June 2021, 86% of our IGCSE students secured A*s and As in their target subjects. 83% of our A Level students secured two As and a B or higher, as requested by top universities. Moreover, all students who applied received offers from some of the best universities globally. We help students enjoy a healthy school-life balance.

By focusing on their personal growth, social development, academic progression, and mental health, we help them become well-rounded, content, and motivated learners.

4. Poor Socialisation

a student having trouble making friends at school min

Some institutions have little to no focus on social growth. Students aren’t encouraged to develop strong friendships. This is extremely dangerous. If students aren’t allowed to socialise with their friends (digitally and physically), they may feel anxious at school. A strong sense of community is extremely important. It helps children feel connected.

Many conventional schools fail to equip students with the tools to establish and strengthen their friendships. It’s also possible that your child is having trouble socialising because they’re introverted. This may make them feel anxious. We recommend having a conversation with your child. Ask them about their friendships at school and whether they’re struggling in any way.

You’re more likely to receive an honest and open answer for younger children than older students. This is because the older they get, children become guarded. They hesitate to open up about something as personal as their friendships. Your question may be deemed intrusive. Develop a roundabout approach. You can also try asking their teachers whether they’re having trouble making friends.

For younger children, plan more get-togethers to help them socialise with their classmates or neighbourhood friends. At Cambridge Home School Online, we prioritise social growth. Our teachers plan a range of different activities that require teamwork. As students work with each other and enjoy fun activities, they develop strong friendships.

5. Wrong Schooling Model

an older student attending his A Level classes

If your child is feeling anxious at school, there’s a high chance that the conventional schooling model isn’t right for them. We recommend speaking with our education specialists and determining whether your child would perform better in the online learning space.

At Cambridge Home School Online, we regularly help parents make important schooling decisions for their children. Offer us more insight about your child, and we’ll help you understand whether the switch will be advantageous for your child or not. Incepted in 2002, we have over 20 years of experience providing quality British online education to students.

We offer four competitive best homeschooling programs ukPrimary Prep/Key Stage 2 (ages 7 to 10), Lower School/Key Stage 3 (ages 11 to 13), Upper School/IGCSEs (ages 14 to 16), and Sixth Form/AS & A-Levels (ages 17 to 19). Presently, we’re teaching students living in the UK, Europe (including Western Russia), Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, and other parts of the world.

If you’re interested in making the switch to CHS Online, feel free to explore the following resources:

We’re excited to have you on board! In addition to prioritising academic growth, we also prioritise mental health. We provide one-on-one success coaching and pastoral support to every student. If they feel anxious at school, they’re provided with guidance, support, and reassurance to get back on track. If you have any questions, feel free to speak with our chatbot. Our team is always happy to help!


What are common stressors affecting children’s mental health in school?

Children often face stressors like bullying, teacher attitudes, and high student-teacher ratios that may lead to anxiety. These factors can negatively impact their sense of self, academic progress, social development, and personal growth.

How can parents help their children if they are victims of bullying in school?

Parents should aim to create a strong emotional bond with their children. The parent-child relationship should be one where the child feels comfortable discussing any issues, including bullying. Providing emotional support and taking appropriate action against the bullying can help ease a child’s anxiety.

What role do teachers play in a student’s school experience, particularly in their mental well-being?

Teachers have a significant impact on students’ mental health. When teachers lack empathy, students may develop feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Therefore, parents should be cautious in selecting a school with teachers who are trained to be understanding, supportive, and patient.

How can self-doubt contribute to anxiety in children?

Self-doubt can arise when children do not receive the necessary support and reassurance from parents, teachers, and peers. Continuous criticism and neglect can contribute to low self-esteem, making children more susceptible to developing anxiety.

What should parents consider if their child is anxious due to the conventional schooling system?

Parents should evaluate whether the traditional schooling model is suitable for their child. An alternative, like online schooling models that offer a low student-teacher ratio and a more personalised approach, may be more beneficial in reducing anxiety in children.