Anxiety can be a normal part of life but can become debilitating for some children. Children with anxiety may experience excessive worry, fear, and nervousness. They may also have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and socializing. Anxiety can significantly impact a child's academic performance, relationships, and well-being.
As a parent, seeing your child struggling with anxiety can be difficult. You may feel helpless or overwhelmed. If they are approaching adolescence, they might keep you at arm's length, and you might miss the signs. However, there are many things you can do to help your child cope with anxiety and live a happy and fulfilling life.
If you are a parent or caregiver, there are several things you can do to help your child manage their anxiety, including:
Educate yourself about anxiety disorders.
Talk to your child about their anxiety.
Help your child to develop coping skills.
Create a supportive and nurturing environment for your child.
Seek professional help if needed.
Remember, you are not alone. Many resources are available to help you and your child cope with anxiety. Talking to a health professional is essential if you are concerned that your child may have an anxiety disorder.
Is your child anxious?
Recognizing that there is a concern is always the first step. Being able to pinpoint that your child is suffering from anxiety and what their symptoms are will help inform how you can help them. Anxiety disorders can manifest in several ways, depending on the individual child. Some common symptoms include:
Avoiding certain situations or activities
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
How Many Children Are Affected?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders among children and adolescents. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 9.4% of children aged 3-17 years have been diagnosed with anxiety. These statistics mean that over 5.8 million children in the United States have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.
A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2021 found that the prevalence of anxiety disorders among children and adolescents in the United States increased from 8.4% in 2019 to 10.0% in 2020.
In Addition to those statistics, some others may be of help to you when you are discussing your child’s anxiety with their doctors:
Girls are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than boys. - (NIMH)
Anxiety disorders can start at any age but are most often diagnosed during adolescence. - (NIMH)
Children with a family history of anxiety disorders are likelier to develop an anxiety disorder. - American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Children who experience stressful events, such as trauma or abuse, are also more likely to develop an anxiety disorder. - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
How Can Schools Help?
What are some things a parent can ask a school for to help their child with anxiety?
Accommodation. Parents can ask the school to provide accommodations for their child's anxiety. Accommodations include allowing the child to leave the classroom for breaks when needed, giving the child extra time to complete assignments, or allowing the child to work in a quiet place.
Counseling services. Parents can ask the school to provide counseling services for their child. School counselors can help students to develop coping skills, manage their anxiety, and improve their academic performance.
A plan for addressing anxiety. Parents can work with the school to develop a plan for managing their child's anxiety. A plan should include specific goals, strategies, and timelines. It is vital to involve the child in developing the program so they feel ownership and are likelier to stick to it.
Here are some specific examples of questions that parents can ask the school:
Can you provide a quiet place for my child to work if they need it?
Can you give my child extra time to complete assignments?
Can you allow my child to leave the classroom for breaks when they need them?
Can you provide my child with counseling services?
Can we develop a plan together for addressing my child's anxiety?
It is essential to be respectful and collaborative when working with the school. The school staff want to help your child succeed, and they are more likely to be receptive to your requests if you are respectful and work with them to find solutions.
If you have any concerns about your child's anxiety, please do not hesitate to contact their teacher, school counselor, or principal. They can help you develop a plan to support your child and help them to succeed.
Brouillette, Judith, et al. "Increased Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Patients with Anxiety Disorders: A Review of Underlying Biomarkers." Biomedical Journal of Scientific and Technical Research, 2019, https://doi.org/10.26717/bjstr.2019.23.003844.
Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Indefinite Quantity Indefinite Delivery (IDIQ). [Tender documents : T467145573]. (2021). MENA Report.