How to Tutor Students with Anxiety Problems

As a home tutor, you are not only responsible for enhancing the student’s knowledge but also for assisting them in honing the abilities they are taught in school and in overcoming their challenges in their weak areas. However, home tuition isn’t only exclusive to students struggling academically. Many capable students engage in home tuition to enrich their knowledge and to study ahead. Some students are dealing with other issues that can affect their academics, such as students who are struggling with anxiety problems.

With the help and guidance of their home tutors, these students can learn more after lessons in the comfort of their own homes. They can develop both their academic and emotional strengths through this. In addition to academics, private tuition helps students acquire additional soft skills that they can apply outside of the classroom in the future. As a result, they can improve their self-esteem and gain mastery of other subjects in the more welcoming and approachable setting of their home.

But anxiety is a significant and important issue that shouldn’t be ignored or taken lightly. For private tuition to be beneficial for students who struggle with anxiety, the structure must be appropriate. Students who struggle with anxiety can go to school and learn alongside their peers with ease if given a suitable support system and home tutor. Approaching anxious students and how to proceed with tutoring them can be done in a variety of ways.

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How can anxiety hinder learning?

Fear and anxiety can affect a child’s development and learning more than people probably realize. The effect of anxiety on a growing mind is also more serious than most people think. These children also frequently don’t “unlearn” their concerns even as adults, which means that if their anxieties aren’t adequately addressed, they may carry them into adulthood along with all of their other worries.

As a result, students who experience persistent anxiety may eventually lose the ability to distinguish between a safe and a harmful environment. On children, especially those who have undergone trauma, physical and emotional abuse, as well as stressful situations, anxiety left untreated can have long-term implications.

Can anxiety reduce a child’s learning capacity?

Numerous studies have revealed that anxiety affects students’ capacity to learn in a variety of ways. Anxiety is a common companion to many learning difficulties, and it may even be the root cause of some of them. As a result, since some disorders are associated with anxiety, they can frequently go misdiagnosed since they are thought to be related to the student’s anxiety and can be neglected or mistreated.

Take for example, a student who gets increasingly frustrated when being asked to complete their schoolwork can have problems with their motivation to work so they are not inclined to finish any of it. Some students also fear social humiliation, and because of this, they may not ask their questions or relay their doubts to their teachers. And this, in turn, would just leave them without answers going forward. In relation to this, some students also are hesitant to ask any adult for help when they are struggling with their schoolwork. While some students have trouble finishing tasks in an organized manner, showing signs of low focus and concentration.

It’s critical to recognize that a child who has anxiety may not develop to their full potential. When a child has anxiety, their worry may prevent them from giving their best effort or from achieving their maximum potential.

What are the signs to look out for?

As anyone would tell you, it requires a professional to properly diagnose a student with anxiety. And though there are some home tutors specially trained in dealing with special cases of students, it’s still important to consult with an expert first.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can just leave it to them entirely. You are more likely to get to know your student from your sessions so there will be cases in which you may notice some symptoms, which you can open up to their parents and may in turn be something that requires professional help.

• Physical complaints

Some students who suffer from anxiety first start with somatic complaints that range from headaches, stomachaches, nausea, heart palpitations, light-headedness, and other physical symptoms with no underlying medical condition that can cause these symptoms. Students such as may even try to cancel tuition because of these complaints or ask to be excused in the middle of the sessions.

• Distorted cognition

Students who have anxiety mostly have the “all-or-nothing” mindset. They can be so focused on perfectionism or their fear of failure. Some students constantly worry causing them to also constantly reach out to their teachers or tutors and ask for frequent reassurance with regards to their performance. Some students also have a “catastrophic” way of thinking in which they think that a single mistake can cause big problems that can directly affect their futures.

• Avoidance behavior

While some students who suffer from anxiety need constant reassurance, there’s also the opposite. They can also have the very observable trait of avoiding as much interaction as they can. They mostly avoid reciting in class or participating in collaborative activities. In tuition, they may refuse to take a test given by their tutor or avoid asking questions and clarifications from their tutor. Some students may even completely shut down during home tuition sessions.

How can tutors help?

Since tutors are not the type of professionals to treat anxiety, the best way they can help their students is to build a solid support system for them through their tuition sessions. Of course, it’s not an easy task to teach a student with anxiety problems, however, we have a few tips that may help you make tutoring them a lot easier and manageable, while also providing the comfort they need.

1. Be extra patient with them

Home tutors indeed have to have patience in home tuition to begin with, however, it’s more so for students with anxiety. Their tutors need to provide them with the time and assistance they require as they work through their anxiety. The student will be able to calm down and cooperate more in whatever tasks they are required to complete if the tutor is patient with them, especially when they most need it.

You have to remember they are already suffering enough as it is. Any form of pressure can affect them negatively and will not help in solving the issue at all. In any case, it may only serve to increase their anxiety levels and will be counterproductive to any activity you wish them to complete.

2. Listen to their worries

Tutors must encourage students to openly discuss their anxieties and fears. The tutor can thoroughly understand the student’s situation and what they are thinking by listening to them. Allow the student to speak for themselves and describe their feelings.

As such, it’s also important for tutors to ask thought-provoking or open-ended questions to their students. The ability to develop their own responses using their own way of thinking can assist the student escape the feeling of having to provide the correct answers. Additionally, one great way to show support for students is to listen to them.

3. Use positive phrasing

Tutors should use more positive speech and give positive feedback to students who have anxiety. Students benefit greatly from positive reinforcement since it gives them the chance to recognize their own growth and improvement. Their efforts are recognized, and as a result, they could begin to believe in themselves.

Praise is also beneficial for students, particularly when they encounter anxiety triggers. This might motivate them to put in more effort to learn how to handle difficult circumstances with more comfort and composure. But tutors should also take the child’s comfort level with being praised by others into account. They may occasionally prefer praise that is given to them in private because the limelight in public may make them feel uneasy and even cause more anxiety.


Private tuition for students with anxiety can be challenging for tutors but at the same time, it can also be a fulfilling experience. Private home tuition is beneficial, more so for students who have trouble interacting with others and believing in their own abilities. The majority of anxious students struggle with their self-esteem, and with the support of their tutors and families, they can be taught to have more faith in their abilities and progress. Home tutors can make sure they are effectively assisting their students in improving not only intellectually, but also in dealing with their anxiety problems by providing the proper structure for their lessons and giving their support.


Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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