Homework anxiety is something most kids struggle with it at some point. In our home it is a big issue with one of our boys. Even though we homeschool now, the negative associations my oldest son developed to doing work in the school environment have stuck with him. He learned in school that getting an answer wrong was not an opportunity for learning, but instead meant punishment. Lost recesses, isolation, ridicule, and more. We are slowly working with him to overcome his anxiety around schoolwork and one of our tools is a homework anxiety survival kit.
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My son struggles with a severe anxiety disorder and his struggles boil over whenever it is time to do math. Although other subjects can occasionally trigger his anxiety, math does it almost every single time. Anxiety around math and schoolwork is by far our biggest struggle in teaching him.
We have spent years helping him learn techniques to overcome the anxiety and stay focused and able to learn. It’s taken time, and lots of of trial and error, but we have been making some great progress.
If you have a child struggling with homework anxiety, consider making them a homework anxiety tool kit. It’s a special box we keep handy while doing homework and homeschool work.
We have tried many items in our kit, but there are a few that have truly made a difference for our son.
How to do your homework without throwing up – This is a fun little book with tips and tricks for calming homework anxiety. It’s a an easy, quick read that my son loves to reference. The big benefit of this book is that it is small, so it can be tucked into the kit.
Stressball – My son loves these dragon stress balls that have eyeballs that pop out when you squeeze them. It gives him the pressure he needs with this hands, but also the regular auditory input of the “popping” of the eyes.
Essential oils – This is my son’s favourite “go to” solution for his anxiety. He is very scent sensitive, so I let him make his own blends. He loves citrus blends. We use a diffuser that works for the whole room, and a roller ball applicator that he can keep in his kit to use whenever he wishes. I love Rocky Mountain Oils, their Attention Assist blend is amazing for diffusing in our homeschool room to help keep everyone calm and focused.
Rescue Remedy – When my son is really stressing, Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic solution. You place a few drops under the tongue and it helps center him. I’ve been using Rescue Remedy for myself and my pets for many, many years. It’s not a miracle cure, but I do find it effective.
Gum or Anti-Anxiety Chews – If you have a child that chews fingers nails, lips, pencils, etc. when anxious, gum or anti-anxiety chews can help to calm them. My son enjoys these lemon flavoured anti-anxiety chews.
Another item my son likes to have in his kit is lip balm. He holds a lot of tension in his mouth, and applying lip balm helps to calm him.
Water Bottle – It’s amazing what a sip of water can do to help calm a person. Staying hydrated is always important. These infusion bottles add a gorgeous burst of colour and flavour to your water by using fresh fruit.
The one thing that my son always has on hand is crystals, rocks, geodes or shells. He has a large collection and some of the collection are always kept in his tool kit. He likes having them around, holding them, and generally finds them very grounding and calming. The best part is that most of his stones have been collected by him over the years directly from nature.
It’s important that a child never be punished for using the toolkit. We also find it helpful to keep the kit relatively small. This way it can be kept close by without it taking up a ton of space or becoming a distraction.
If you are looking for a few additional resources that are excellent educational tools, we really like When My Worries Get Too Big! and What To Do When You Worry Too Much. These are larger books, so they don’t fit in our tool kit. We keep them on our shelves and use them to create cue cards that we can include in the toolkit. The cards act as reminders of some of the things he wants to try to help control his anxiety.
As an adult working in a stressful job I often had many of these types of items in my desk. It only makes sense that we need to provide our children with similar resources to help them learn to cope with stress and anxiety. By giving them the tools early, they are learning how to manage their own anxiety and reactions which will set them up for success in the future, no matter what their jobs throw at them.