What Causes Reading Anxiety and How to Help Kids Overcome it

For millions of people, reading helps them slip into another world and relax from the day. Some children, however, find reading stressful. Even being asked to read more can set them on edge. This phenomenon is called reading anxiety, and educators and academics have spent decades trying to uncover the root cause of the issue. 

Potential Causes of Reading Anxiety

Struggling with words

Reading loses all of its fun when each word feels like a challenge. Trying to fight to read each word adds to the anxiety of when a child picks up a book. They worry “will I even be able to read the words?”

Struggling with comprehension

Sometimes children don’t struggle with the words themselves, but when you ask them what they just read, they’ll look at you blankly. Comprehension struggles can stem from vocabulary issues or staying focused on the text. 

Fear of judgment for mistakes

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for kids to be teased for reading aloud slowly or mispronouncing words. Even a small thing like a single snicker can chip away at their confidence. 

Fixating on past mistakes

Even if a child isn’t teased for making a mistake, they can be their own worst enemy. Children who think they should be reading at the same rates as their peers can develop perfectionist tendencies, and these can stifle their willingness to read freely. 

How to Help Kids Overcome Reading Anxiety

Find the right books for their reading level. 

If kids struggle with either comprehension or reading, they might need to read books at a level that suits them. There are plenty of books about subjects they love at reading levels that work for them. 

Try “nontraditional” reading. 

Books aren’t the only way for kids to build their reading skills. Graphic novels, comic books, and kids’ magazines can sometimes be more engaging than standard books thanks to their visuals. 

Have them read to a stuffed animal or pet. 

You want to know who’s guaranteed to never laugh if your child struggles to read aloud? Your family dog. Animals (either stuffed or real) can provide a calming presence for anxious kids. They can help give children an environment where they feel comfortable reading out loud. 

Remind them that everyone makes mistakes reading. 

The reminder that they’re not alone in tripping over words can be good assurance for kids struggling with reading anxiety. Remind your child that they’re not a failure for struggling with certain words, and reaffirm that reading is something that, with practice, they can get better at.

At Lake Forrest Prep, one of Orlando’s leading private schools, we’re here to help your child through any subject. Our educators are able to understand the hindrances a student might have and give them the assistance they need to succeed. To learn more about what Lake Forrest can do for your child, give us a call at 407-331-5144 or schedule a time to tour

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