The misconceptions of Childhood Anxiety...
I had an interesting experience a few years ago when our youngest daughter Grace was just 13. I was attending an awards ceremony for her…
As always the ceremony starts with the Principal Address, he usually talks about the achievements of the kids and how proud he is of all they have achieved for Term 1.
However, this time he started out with what he wanted to achieve and that was 93% attendance record, the school was currently sitting at 87%.
In my mind I was thinking for such a big school that is a pretty good record, it was then that he really grabbed my attention.
He used a buzz word “Anxiety” and stated it as the main reason for kids not attending school…
My ears did prick up because I had my business brain on, thinking YES I can help support parents and kids with this.
Well I sure didn’t see or expect what was to come next, his solution to childhood anxiety left me feeling very dismayed.
He made a suggestion to the kids that all they need to do is become more organised, and arrive at school early. So then they are not rushing around, and will be the first in class, feeling safe and ready for the day.
What do you think about this approach? Would this work for your child?
Now there are definitely different levels and types of childhood anxiety, and I certainly understand what he was saying, in regards to how the kids feel when they are running late, and rushed to get to class on time.
But is that really in the child’s complete control, I know for my kids, and I will be honest if they are late it is usually my fault…
This experience really got me thinking, and wondered how many people are there that really don’t understand anxiety, and what role it is playing in your child’s life.
Now I know for me I recognise anxiety instantly, 1. I have personal experience 2. I am a trained professional counsellor, and this led me to writing this article and wanting to share how you can recognise anxiety in your child.
As I mentioned earlier there are different types of Childhood Anxiety, for example some of the common types I see with my clients are: Separation Anxiety, Generalised Anxiety and Situational Anxiety.
- Separation Anxiety is as the name describes and is more common in younger children, but can also be seen in older children as well just depending on what the child has experienced and is currently coping with.
- Generalised Anxiety is used to describe anxiety that doesn’t pertain to one certain event, experience or time. You may have described your child as “An anxious child”.
- Situational Anxiety is used to describe anxiety that pertains to a certain event or experience, such as tests or exams. I see this in both younger and older children, for example younger children surrounding doctor or dentist visits and older kids exams at school.
Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of anxiety, let’s look at some of the signs and symptoms to look for in your child.
- Complaining of stomach pains and no other signs of illness
- Sweaty palms
- Withdrawn behaviour, not wanting to participate in activities they would of in the past
- Talking about all the bad things that may happen (classic anxious behaviour)
- Crying and hiding behind you (specific to younger children with separation anxiety)
- Not wanting to go to school and no real reason that you can determine
- Lashing out at their siblings for reasons that in the past may not have bothered them
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Trouble sleeping
- Grades at school lowering compared to previous reports
These are just a few of the signs and symptoms that your child may exhibit when they are feeling anxious. Can you recognise any that you have seen in your child?
I know how distressing it can be dealing with anxiety in your children, I am a mum to two now adult daughers, but both suffer from anxiety.
Having the tools and strategies you need as a parent, can really help to lower this feeling of dis-empowerment, and distress, and I find an individual approach is best.
Each childs anxiety symptoms can show up in a different way and for different reasons, you know your child better than anyone else.
Starting to understand your childs symptoms and when they show up, can get you started in knowing the best ways in which you can support them.
As a gift to you, I want to share with you a worksheet that I know can be very helpful when helping your child with anxiety…
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