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Worries and Anxiety in Children

 

Anxiety In Children: Helpful Tips To Survive The School Year

All of us have worries that impact us every day. Whether it is job stress, a sick parent or doctor’s appointments, sometimes it can be overwhelming—especially this time of year. At times, just trying to get our kids out of bed and ready for school can be a lot to handle. 

Children have homework, classwork, friendship and family worries too, perhaps different worries from adults but worries just the same. Children show variation in how they express their feelings: Some children are quiet about their worries and some will tell you ALL their worries. Some are in-between.

Just as it is for adults, it is hard for kids to concentrate on learning or getting work done when they have a lot on their minds. Part of growing up is learning how to cope with worries and anxiety about friends, family, and schoolwork. Another big challenge that children face is learning how to manage and communicate feelings—that’s why this topic is a big part of our classroom guidance curriculum.

We find that Meadowlark students want to do well and try so hard they may find it hard to express their worries about how they are doing in school. Perhaps they think they can “tough it out” or are hesitant to share their worries. At school when we talk with kids about worries, it’s sometimes surprising to see that kids have a lot on their minds; whether it’s about friends they can’t seem to get along with, how they did on tests, not being invited to parties, or who will play with them at recess. It may seem small to adults but to children, they are very important and can take up a big part of a child’s thoughts. Kids are still learning how to recognize and deal with worries, so it’s natural for them to be overwhelmed by them, not knowing quite what to do.

 It’s clear that some children just need to say what they are worried about and afterward, they feel so much better just getting it out. Other kids continue to have worries, and that’s okay. What matters is that kids don’t dwell on worries to the point it becomes a barrier to life and learning. Excessive worried thoughts, even for good reasons, often feeds the worries and “grows” them for kidsandadults.

What can we do to help? Here are some great tips for parents to help their child with worries, fears, and anxiety fromHelping Your Anxious Child.

§Genuinely accept your child’s concerns and perceptions, and gently correct misinformation.

§Patiently encourage your child to approach a feared situation one step at a time until it becomes familiar and manageable.

§Always try to get your child to events on time, or early—being late can elevate levels of anxiety.

§Continually set equal expectations for all kids, anxious or not. Expecting a child to be anxious will only encourage anxiety.

§Build your child’s personal strengths.

§Help your child organize their school materials for the next day the night before.

§Allow and encourage your child to do things on his/her own and check on them.

§Designate a “safe person” at school that understands your child’s worries and concerns.

§Try not to pass your own fears onto your child. It’s important for us as adults to avoid talking a lot about worries around our kids because kids have a tendency to “soak up” the feelings of adults.

§Work together as a team (family members, teachers, child, day care providers, etcetera).

§Set consequences—don’t confuse anxiety with other types of inappropriate behavior. Set limits and consequences so that you don’t allow anxiety to enable your child.

§Have reasonable expectations. *

 

–Mrs. Pesce and Mrs. Browder, Meadowlark Elementary School Counselors

 

*Helpful tips from:Helping Your Anxious Child, 2ndedition, Rapee et.al, Newharbinger Publications, 2008.

 

Last Modified on November 13, 2013