Last school year I let my 12 year old daughter take a mental health day from school. There was no specific event that caused her anxiety. She was simply overwhelmed with being 12. So I let her stay home. I had her email all of her teachers and find out what she would miss and needed to make up. I explained to her that it was ok to take a day to reset her mental health but that she still needed to manage her commitments. The next day she woke up ready to go to school.
Some schools now accept mental health days as excused absences. I hope more join in. And even if they don't, I hope more parents realize the benefits of allowing their kids to take a break. It doesn't have to be skipping a day of school. It could mean staying home all day on a Saturday. No errands, no activities. Just stay home. Watch movies together, play games, play with toys. I guarantee that a good Nerf gun battle or dressing up Barbies will do wonders for everyone in the house. And if your child seems completely overwhelmed with school, let them take a day off. You are teaching them to take care of themselves. That it's OK to put themselves first. That nothing is as important as their mental health.
Obviously, we can't let them stay home all the time. Most kids will tell you everyday that they don't want to go to school. It's our job as moms to really listen to our kids. When they were infants you learned to distinguish whether their cries were from hunger, exhaustion or a dirty diaper. As they grow up, you will learn the difference between not wanting to go to school and needing to stay home.
There are plenty of books for all ages to help kids understand their feelings. I love The Feelings Book by American Girl. They also have a Feelings Journal which is geared toward girls and can help them work through their feelings. The Feelings Book by Todd Parr was our favorite board book when they were little. Having a Mommy and Me or Daddy and Me journal is great for kids to write things down without having to talk directly to you. You can respond through the journal too. This removes the awkwardness that comes with face to face conversation. The goal is to help your kids learn how to understand and process their feelings. How you reach that goal is up to you.
Some other awesome resources are: