Parenting Anxious Children: At Home and In School

At one point, my anxiety was seriously interfering with my daily activities, especially with parenting anxious children. I had recently started my first blog and relocated across the country to attend medical school.

Back then, I was searching for a group of people who would understand my postpartum anxiety and help me work through my mommy guilt. I poured a lot of time into looking for other new mothers online who might understand what I was going through. Spending more time writing on my blog was therapeutic, but it did nothing to alleviate my anxiety.

Years later, when I finally started therapy, I was able to figure out what was causing my mental health problems in the first place and start fixing them. Taking the initiative to seek therapy was one of the best choices I could have made for my own mental health, and I strongly urge anyone interested in doing the same.

Relax and enjoy some time off.

I learned that seeking professional help was essential to manage my anxiety but that there were other easy things I could do as well.

  • Start doing something you enjoy, whether reading, yoga, or soaking in the tub.
  • Plan out your time effectively and keep to it with the help of a calendar or other electronic prompts.
  • Eat well to stay healthy.
  • Make sleep a regular part of your routine.
  • Start moving! Exercising can be a powerful stress-buster.
  • Feel free to voice any worries you may have. Meet with a trusted confidant, be it a friend, partner, or professional counselor.
  • Connect with other parents in similar situations online by joining a community forum.
  • Remember that you have support from others.

Being a mother and working in the field of mental health.

I have experience as a psychiatric provider, working with adult patients suffering from a wide range of diagnosable mental health conditions. Many of the diseases and disorders I treat can also affect young people. Oftentimes, these people have been dealing with mental and emotional disorders since they were young.

As a parent, one of my goals is to encourage my children’s growth in terms of their emotional and psychological well-being through various means. I have used my history with anxiety and my training as a doctor to advocate for better mental health care for our children. It is important to me that my children learn to identify and cope with their emotions and overcome obstacles.

Typical childhood mental health issues:

Perhaps you’re curious about the signs and potential consequences of common mental health issues in children. When we speak of mental health disorders in children, we are referring to disruptions in these areas of development. These factors can contribute to a person’s experiencing distress and finding it difficult to go about their day. Other conditions, such as autism and language and learning disorders, can also manifest as cognitive differences in children. The following are some examples of common pediatric mental health issues:

1. Anxiety

Excessive worry and fear, often accompanied by ritualistic actions or panic attacks, are hallmarks of anxiety disorder.

2. Depression

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by low mood and lack of interest that can significantly impact an individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks.

3. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

It’s a problem with the parts of the brain responsible for organizing and sustaining attention and the ability to carry out specific tasks.

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A mental illness can manifest itself after exposure to or experiencing traumatic events.

5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Pathology is characterized by the presence of obsessions (persistent, distressing thoughts, images, or physical sensations) that cause the sufferer to feel compelled to act in a ritualistic fashion (compulsions).

6. Tourette Syndrome

Tics, vocalizations, and the involuntary use of profanity are hallmarks of this disorder.

Children’s anxiety stems from a variety of sources

Anxiety in children can be caused by a wide variety of situations, but some common risk factors include the following:

  • Disorienting experiences that leave victims feeling helpless.
  • Worst parents ever.
  • Constant pressure from work and personal obligations.
  • Environments that are too controlling or protective.
  • Adoption-related parental anxiety.
  • Anxiety in children and its possible genetic roots.

Parents’ concerns about their children in the new school year.

For both kids and their parents, the beginning of a new school year can bring on a wide range of feelings. My two young sons, like many others, are probably apprehensive about starting a new school year. We should exercise caution when discussing novel situations with kids because they may internalize our apprehensions and fears.

Our children will be exposed to new people, places, and things as they begin a new school year. For an adult, these are stressful circumstances; think of what it would be like for a child. At the start of each school day, my husband and I remind our sons that they can always count on our love and support, but we also encourage them to face their fears head-on.

Signs of anxiety in kids:

Childhood anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, some of which include:

  • Anxiety about being around other people.
  • Extreme apprehension or anxiety.
  • Temper and annoyance.
  • Not being able to get to sleep.
  • Challenges focusing on specific tasks.
  • Anxious routines, such as biting nails.
  • Hurts in the tummy.
  • Tiredness.
  • Headaches.

The daily drop-off can to school can be difficult for children who don’t like being parted from their parents. If your child has anxiety about going to school, these suggestions can help them through the daycare, preschool, and primary school years.

“School is something I despise”, says a child. Research shows that it’s a common complaint from children, but it may be a sign of a more serious problem: school anxiety. 2 to 5 percent of school-age children experience this anxiety (ADAA). And the pandemic hasn’t made things any easier. It might be difficult for students to reacclimate to the classroom setting after months of remote study and limited social connections.

Consequently, how can you tell if a call for help from your child is only an attempt to avoid an uncomfortable situation? Find out what causes, and symptoms of school anxiety are, along with ideas on how to make the transition smoother.

Anxiety about the next school year in the Daycare

Using games like peek-a-boo to reinforce the idea that you’ll always return when you leave, you can better prepare your youngster for separation anxiety. Small doses of separation, such as a day at Grandma’s house or an aunt’s place, can also be introduced to your child. Because she understands that you will return when you say you will and because she had a pleasant time even when you were away, your child will gradually become more comfortable with spending time away from you.

When it’s time to pick up your child from daycare, say your goodbyes in a way that conveys your love and commitment to returning soon.

 To avoid making a child’s departure more difficult, avoid dragging out the process. Avoid leaving the house without saying goodbye to your child, as this could cause them to believe that you are untrustworthy. As an additional precaution, bring some sort of comforting objects like a teddy animal or blanket to the daycare.

Preschoolers’ Fear of Attending School

Take your child on a tour of the preschool a few days before they start. Openly and enthusiastically discuss your child’s forthcoming schedule with them. To ease your child’s transition into the new school year, arrange playdates with some of his or her new classmates prior to the start of classes.

Role-playing exercises can be performed at home as well. While many youngsters are academically prepared for school, they often lack the social confidence to speak up for themselves. Act out social situations that cause children anxiety, such as meeting the teacher for the first time, using puppets, dolls, or stuffed animals.

Your child may benefit from knowing that you will be there for a few minutes on their first day of school just to help them get their bearings. 

Give them something to keep in their pocket that will serve as a reminder of you in case they get down on themselves. To address a significant issue, you may want to speak with the teacher individually. At first, many children are tearful, but they soon get over it.

You can also praise your children for taking great steps toward independence by praising them. Consider rewarding your child with a special outing once they earn a set number of stickers on their chart, such as a sticker for every day they attend school without crying or clinging.

Anxiety for Elementary School Children

To rule out medical issues, always get recurring physical complaints examined by a pediatrician. Children should not be allowed to miss school, even if they are physically healthy. Recognize their fear, but reassure them that they will still have a good time despite their trepidation. Instill confidence in them by reminding them of how well things went when they stayed at Grandma’s for the first time without you.

Another thing to check is whether or whether there are issues at school or home. Find out if your child or teacher was bullied or teased. 

A move, a divorce, the death of a family pet, or some other personal event could be the source of these troubling emotions for you and your family members. Some unfavorable symptoms may be relieved if these concerns are dealt with appropriately.

For more than a few weeks, get your child evaluated by a mental health professional who specializes in working with children. If you’re experiencing school anxiety, it’s not necessarily a sign that you have an anxiety problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common first step in treatment since it teaches patients how to relax and cope with stressful situations. Severe cases may necessitate a prescription from a doctor. With the help of the professional and your child’s instructor, you can make you

Instructions that parents can put into practice right away to help their kids

1. Try some free-form questioning.

To help my son manage his anxiety, I’ve been showing him techniques he can use to deal with it. One way I do this is by asking only open-ended questions and never asking for clarification. If you’re worried about going to school, you could ask, “What are your concerns?” Normally, I’d inquire, “How do you feel about attending class?”

2. Encourage them to reflect on and discuss their emotions.

When kids act out, it could be because they need support talking about how they feel. They can be encouraged to express their feelings in more constructive ways by:

  • Using basic emotions like happy, sad, and mad to help a child understand complex emotions.
  • Find opportunities to instruct them as they struggle with their feelings. Explain everything step-by-step.
  • If they are unable to discuss their feelings, it is helpful to remind them of other coping mechanisms, such as taking a deep breath or stepping away from the situation for a moment.

3. Expressing one’s emotions through one’s favorite books and characters.

Other forms of parental assistance include:

  • Affirming their feelings.
  • Reassuring them that their anxiety is normal and that they are not alone in feeling this way. It’s not just you; many people share this sentiment.
  • Helping them develop strategies for dealing with challenging situations, such as deep breathing exercises or a game plan for handling anxious feelings or other negative emotions.
  • Assisting them in formulating a plan for handling the crisis.

The act of exposing them to their fears in a supportive manner. Practicing these techniques will teach them self-control, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skills.

When to get help from an expert.

When your child’s anxiety frequently interferes with daily activities, it’s time to get some help. If it becomes so overwhelming that they cannot function normally, it may be time to seek the assistance of a trained professional.

Helpful information for parents.

I’ve been a parent, so I know how frustrating it is when things don’t go as planned. It’s natural to worry about your kid or put the blame on yourself, but doing so won’t help either of you. You and your loved ones can get support. And keep in mind that your own health and happiness are crucial to the success of your parenting. Hence, take care of yourself to give your loved ones the best version of yourself.

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