Decoding Didaskaleinophobia – The Fear Of Going To School
Do you dread going to school? Is the idea of going to class enough to give you a panic attack or bad stomach aches? Do you find yourself thinking: ‘Is it normal to be scared of school?’ or ‘How can I get over my fear of school?’
While it’s common to feel lazy or dislike school and homework, a pronounced and prolonged fear of school itself could be a symptom of didaskaleinophobia.
Dida- what? This lengthy word has a simple meaning. Didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school. It sounds like something that could’ve been made up by a kid who hates going to school, but it isn’t. Didaskaleinophobia is a legitimate fear that is real and not made up.
If you or your child experience didaskaleinophobia, it is not too late to overcome it. Let’s find out more about didaskale…okay, the fear of going to school.
What Causes the Fear of Going to School?
Didaskaleinophobia causes are not easy to figure out. On the surface, it may seem like something a child who doesn’t like school makes up, but the possible reasons behind it can be influenced by multiple factors.
Financial troubles at home or moving to a new city are stressful events. Minor anxiety about moving to a new school can be triggered by another stressful event at home or school, turning temporary anxiety into a long-term phobia of school. Lots of parents pressure their children to do better at school while neglecting to listen to their kids’ concerns and problems. As a result, children can feel trapped by a stressful environment where there appears to be no escape.
Divorced parents, the death of a loved one, or abusive behavior from someone at school can cause children to become depressed. Kids can start viewing regular social interactions as a negative experience, ultimately becoming fearful of being forced into such interactions.
Psychological/ genetic causes
History of anxiety disorders or social anxiety in the family can be passed down to children. Their first interaction with the world outside happens at school. Certain experiences at school can cause anxiety and anxiety disorders to show up.
News about gun violence, bullying at school, and strict teachers can all contribute to a hostile environment. If the parents or caregivers do not address a hostile environment, it can give rise to school phobia.
Separation anxiety in young children who are starting school can worsen if they encounter adverse conditions on campus. Similarly, puberty is an important milestone for children. Traumatic and distressing experiences during these times can have a negative long-term effect on their psyche.
Some Things to Know About Didaskaleinophobia
The term didaskaleinophobia originates from ‘didasko’ which means to teach and ‘phobia’ which means to fear.
Didaskaleinophobia is prevalent and easy to spot in children between 5 to 10 years of age. However, didaskaleinophobia in adults is not unheard of. Un-diagnosed didaskaleinophobia in childhood can turn anxious children into anxious adults. Their fear of school may then grow to become a fear of society, the workplace, and the outdoors.
Symptoms of Didaskaleinophobia
The younger the sufferer, the harder it is to understand them. Children can show a variety of behaviors that indicate fear, but they can become less expressive and may resort to avoidant behaviors to get out of going to school as they get older. While these symptoms describe children who outwardly show fear, remember that children who go to school can also have didaskaleinophobia.
Physical Symptoms (For Younger Age Groups)
● Crying or screaming
● Clinging to parents when near or outside school
Physical Symptoms (For Older Age Groups)
● Complaints of head or stomach pain
● Loss of appetite
● Skipping school
● Anxiety or panic attacks
● Trouble falling asleep
● Alcohol or drug use
● Heart palpitations
● Dry mouth
● Lying, making up stories, and faking illness to avoid school
● Mood swings
● Reduced interaction with family and friends
● Reduced social activity
● Always angry or irritable
● Constantly complaining about teachers and school
● Anxiety and nervousness
It can be hard pinpointing symptoms that could also apply to a hundred different things. A simple solution is to look for patterns in behavior that are related to going to school or school-based activities.
How Do You Deal with Didaskaleinophobia?
No matter how much children want to avoid school, it is beneficial for them to come to class. School helps them get an education while developing a social understanding of the world around them. This type of socialization is more important than it may seem.
Avoidance or alternatives (like homeschooling) can help them learn but it won’t get rid of school fear. Instead of avoiding school, parents and children should instead look for therapies and exercises that can help them adapt. Children can practice by themselves, or with their parents and trained professionals.
Self-Help – What Can Children or Parents Do?
Self-help entails the parents and children taking the initiative to find a solution by finding the cause. Take steps that help children become familiar with the school environment and address any concerns that stem from it. Parents are the first social contact children have and this relationship inspires the way they interact with the world. Healthy relationships in the house allow children to follow the same practices outside the house.
Talking to someone helps get a fresh perspective and develops a feeling of comfort between people. Children could talk to their parents, teachers, or a counselor at school. The help of teachers can be enlisted if necessary.
Visualization, music therapy, and breathing exercises are known to relax the body and mind. Doing some form of these exercises before and after school can help put children at ease and help them worry less and focus on the present more. Being present and rational can be achieved with mindfulness exercises. Professionals or parents can guide children in doing these.
A healthy diet and exercise relieve stress from the body. Focus less on grades, homework, and school. Avoid blaming poor grades on children or constantly pressuring them to study harder as it can increase their fear of getting bad grades.
Professional Help for The Fear of Going to School – Your Options
If the mere thought of going to school makes your children panic, it can be a serious problem, and consulting a professional is advised. A trained professional can conduct a didaskaleinophobia test to see the level of children’s fears.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This includes a series of sessions where a therapist talks to a child about fear, fear responses, symptoms, thoughts, and feelings. Its purpose is to bring out the root cause of fear, help the child develop healthier mental pathways, and rationalize their actions.
Also known as exposure therapy, desensitization exposes children to the trigger or stressor in a controlled environment. Children can participate in these exercises knowing they are not real and are completely safe. The purpose of it is to desensitize children towards the stressor by repeated exposure and show them ways of coping.
Didaskaleinophobia treatment in younger children makes it more effective but medication should be the last option. While medication is a good solution in decreasing fear responses and helps calm the child, they do not provide permanent relief from the fear.
Learning to Cope with Didaskaleinophobia
Any phobia involving children can be frustrating for children and their parents. Parents can help children cope by being patient and calm. Trusting their kids, understanding the situation, and lending a sympathetic ear work well in reducing nervous energy in children.
Parents need support as well. Parents can draw support from each other or a therapist. Getting parental support can help parents put their worries to rest so they can help their children and be the parent their children need.