Anxiety in School Children

Anxiety in School Children

What Is It?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that we will all experience at some time in our lives, such as in the build up to exams or even something as simple as a job interview. But when anxiety starts to become much more severe, this feeling can very quickly and unknowingly take over your life. Before you know it you can’t perform everyday tasks that you took for granted previously and you begin to hide yourself away from the situations where the anxiety had a peak.

When you suffer with anxiety as yourself, you can at least feel the severity and try and deal with it yourself, however when it is a child that is affected, you can feel very helpless and scared.

Anxiety can linger and yet no one really sees it for what it is. It can lead to all kinds of behaviours you don’t understand – you or your child.  And as it grows, you start to realise exactly what it is.  Now is the time that you begin to figure out what you can do to help your child through this.

Children can begin to feel anxious about different things at different ages. Most of these anxious feelings are a normal part of growing up.

Whats ‘Normal?’

From approximately eight months to three years old  it’s very common for young children to have whats referred to as separation anxiety. They can suddenly become clingy and fret when separated from their parents or carers. This is a totally normal stage in a child’s development and will eventually begin to ease off at around age two or three.

It’s then also common for pre-school children to display various fears or phobias. The most common fears within early childhood can include insects, water, animals, storms, heights, blood, and the dark. These fears usually dissipate on their own over time.

Continuing through a child’s life there will be various other times when anxiety rears its ugly head; when starting a new school, for example, or before tests or exams. Some children also feel shy in social situations and might need extra support with this.

Anxiety only becomes a problem for children when it begins to get in the way of their everyday life.

What Are They Feeling?

When a young child feels anxious, they don’t always understand or are able to express what it is that they are feeling. They could:

  • become irritable, tearful or clingy
  • experience interrupted sleeping
  • wake in the night
  • start wetting the bed
  • experience bad dreams or night terrors

With older children they could:

  • lack confidence in trying new things or maybe seem unable to face simple, everyday situations
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • experience problems with sleeping or eating
  • be prone to angry outbursts
  • have negative thoughts, or keep thinking that bad things will to happen
  • begin to avoid everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or attending school
What Can I Do?

The key here is to notice these changes or symptoms and offer them help and support because they will be feeling far from normal. Maybe even visit your GP initially and be guided by them.

I have worked with many children who have suffered with anxiety for many different reasons and together with them and their parents we have found a solution and moved into a more confident and happy life.

Clare Kiernan is the sole owner of Essex Therapy and can be contacted on 01268 527757 or 07840 416633 or if you feel more comfortable sending an email, please do so to:

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We all experience anxiety at some point in our lives, the severity can depend on how we manage it. If it is left to it’s ‘own’ devices and constantly put down to ‘a funny turn’ or ‘just one of those things’, before you know it, it has taken over your life.

Apart from the debilitating physical aspects of a panic attack, it eats away at your confidence. Every day chores become the hardest things to complete in the whole wide world. You start to dodge your friends because you simply can’t be around people and worse still, you start to dodge your family because you don’t want them to see you like this – why – because it makes you feel like you have let them down.

I can hear many of you that have never experienced a panic attack who are reading this saying, “I’d deal with it if it happened to me!” Unfortunately the Flight or Fight Response bows to no-one and you literally have no warning when it’s going to kick in.

A feeling of dread starts to grow within you, something is feeding the anxiety, not necessarily something that you are aware of. It grows and a jumble of thoughts enter your head, your eyes become over sensitive – everything seems to be growing brighter, colours more vivid, your senses heighten and you become very aware of all that is around you, it begins to feel like you are trapped, losing control of the situation, you don’t want people looking at you, they can’t see you like this, you need to get outside or get away, NOW. You rush to your safety zone away from the trigger situation, but whats this.. the panic hasn’t weakened, now you can’t get enough air in your lungs, you’re shaking from deep inside your stomach, you can’t keep still, you start to sweat, your heart is banging in your throat and ears, you can’t think straight, you want to run – you NEED to run away but where to? Where can you go? You are trapped…

An unknown amount of time passes… you notice the feeling of absolute dread is finally lifting, it’s going to be ok – YOU are going to be OK. Now, do you agree this isn’t a funny turn?

Anxiety can manifest itself in numerous ways, ways that can be hidden from onlookers, and ways that take you over completely and you feel your control has been compromised. It’s ok to ask for help. This is a very real problem.

On the outside Anxiety can make you do or crave many things, things that may give you short term relief, but you will always come back full circle and have another panic attack as your confidence get’s eaten up by the quietly consistent anxiety. Whatever is your choice of poison, it’s not a ‘buffer’ or ‘crutch’ that you need, it’s support and strength to get you through this period of anxiety in your life. Regardless of how bad it gets, how dark it gets – there is always a light at the end of that long lonely tunnel that is anxiety.

I have helped countless people overcome their anxieties and this has allowed them to lead a perfectly normal life again. You will probably never forget how it made you feel, however you will gain strength from the experience no matter how long it lasted and you will learn from it. You will gradually rebuild your confidence again and even find new confidence and a new zest for life.

You are never alone when you have my number, call me, let’s talk.


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