Monday, September 9, 2013

Anxiety in School Aged Children

Anxiety in School Aged Children
Tips for Parents

School can be a difficult time for some children.  With the fall well underway, it can become stressful for students when learning classroom expectations and curriculum within a new grade level.  Anxiety is common and can often be what we refer to as "nerves" or "butterflies in our stomachs" when we embark on a new experience or event.  It is important to recognize in your child when the anxiety becomes too big and you may need to seek out some support. Here are some ways to recognize when your child may be experiencing high anxiety...

Common Red flags

Demonstrating excessive distress out of proportion to the situation: crying, physical symptoms, sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, embarrassment
  • Easily distressed, or agitated when in a stressful situation
  • Repetitive reassurance questions, "what if" concerns, inconsolable, won't respond to logical arguments
  • Headaches, stomachaches, regularly too sick to go to school
  • Anticipatory anxiety, worrying hours, days, weeks ahead
  • Disruptions of sleep with difficulty falling asleep, frequent nightmares, difficulty sleeping alone
  • Perfectionism, self-critical, very high standards that make nothing good enough
  • Overly-responsible, people pleasing, excessive concern that others are upset with him or her, unnecessary apologizing
  • Demonstrating excessive avoidance, refuses to participate in expected activities, refusal to attend school
  • Disruption of child or family functioning, difficulty with going to school, friend's houses, family gatherings, errands, vacations
  • Excessive time spent consoling child about distress with ordinary situations, excessive time coaxing child to do normal activities- homework, hygiene, meals.(Adapted from www.worrywisekids.org)

Here are some ways you can help at home....
  • Pay attention to your child’s feelings.
  • Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event.
  • Recognize and praise small accomplishments.
  • Don’t punish mistakes or lack of progress.
  • Be flexible and try to maintain a normal routine.
  • Modify expectations during stressful periods.
  • Plan for transitions (For example, allow extra time in the morning if getting to school is difficult). 
Your child’s anxiety may affect success at school. If anxiety is causing your child to struggle at school academically or socially, the first step is to talk to the teacher, principal, or counselor about your concerns.  
(Adapted from www.adaa.org)