The Benefits of Teaching Social Skills to Students with High Anxiety


By Emily McCandliss, 4th Grade Teacher at The Prentice School–

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one in three Americans experience some type of anxiety disorder in their lifetime. While this mental illness – the most common in the U.S. – is eminently treatable, only about a third of sufferers actually receive treatment.

The negative effects of untreated anxiety disorders

Children and adolescents especially bear the brunt of this lack of adequate treatment, as most schools fail to meet their needs. Students with anxiety disorders or generally high anxiety levels often face struggles in school settings where educational and social demands are high. But it is rare for teachers, including those with degrees in special education, to receive training in helping students facing anxiety disorders or other mental health issues.

High anxiety affects students in a wide variety of ways. Students suffering from high anxiety or anxiety disorders often experience constant worry, fears, stomach aches, headaches and panic attacks. They may avoid social situations and places where their anxiety is heightened. The good news is that there are strategies that can help these students cope with their anxiety and, in many cases, move beyond it.

Benefits of The Prentice School approach

At The Prentice School, students are offered strong support to help them deal with anxiety disorders. Teachers at Prentice understand the importance of addressing students’ academic, social and emotional needs regardless of any assigned label. Training to teach emotional regulation is emphasized to help teachers better meet the needs of students with high anxiety.

The benefits for Prentice students are significant. Utilizing strategies such as coaching, talk therapy, role-playing, watching videos of positive behavior and practicing ways to settle conflicts teaches students how to better manage their own behaviors. This results in students who are less aggressive, impulsive and angry. These practices teach students to behave in socially acceptable ways while also addressing the root causes of anxiety.

Developing emotional regulation strategies to cope with anxiety

One of the most beneficial outcomes for students at The Prentice School is the improvement of effective emotional regulation skills. Teachers adept at working with students with high anxiety know how to encourage and support students as they develop these important skills.

All areas of communication are stressed as Prentice students learn specific emotional regulation strategies to help them cope with their anxiety. These include identifying one’s own feelings, mindfulness, deep breathing, self-advocacy and appropriate forms of assertiveness.

Fighting anxiety in class and at home

Social skills training for students with high anxiety and anxiety disorders is critical for their academic and social success. Access to trained teachers and high-quality social emotional learning is a necessity.

Call 714.244.4600 if you are interested in taking a Prentice campus tour!

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