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Recognizing and Supporting Anxiety in Kids during the School Year

Understanding Your Child’s Anxiety: 

Anxiety is a common issue among children, and it can manifest in various ways. With the school year underway for nearly two months, some kids may be grappling with heightened anxiety related to their academic life. Below, we’ll shed light on what anxiety can look like in children and offer guidance on how parents and caregivers can provide support. 

Identifying Anxiety in Children:
  1. Academic Performance: If a child who used to excel in school is now struggling with their grades, this could be an indicator of anxiety. They might become excessively concerned about homework, tests, and their overall performance.
  2. Physical Symptoms: Children with anxiety may complain about stomachaches, headaches, or other physical discomforts even when there is no apparent medical cause. These physical symptoms are often linked to stress and anxiety. 
  3. Changes in Behavior: Anxiety can lead to changes in a child’s behavior. They may become more withdrawn, irritable, or find it challenging to concentrate. They might also withdraw from school or social activities they previously enjoyed. 
  4. Sleep Troubles: Anxiety can disrupt a child’s sleep patterns, causing difficulties falling asleep or leading to frequent nightmares.
  5. Excessive Worry: Children with anxiety tend to worry excessively about various aspects of their lives, including school, family, and friendships. 


How You Can Help Talk About It: 
  1. Start the Dialogue: Encourage open conversations by asking specific questions like “How are you feeling about school lately?” or “Is there anything that’s been bothering you?” This can create a safe environment for your child to share their concerns without feeling judged.
  2. Explore Physical Signals: Ask about any physical discomforts, such as stomachaches or headaches. Use questions like “Have you been feeling any different sensations in your body when you think about school?” This can help you understand how anxiety might be manifesting physically. 
  3. Behavioral Changes Discussion: Initiate a discussion about any changes in behavior you’ve noticed. Ask questions such as “I’ve noticed you’ve been spending more time alone. Is everything okay?” or “You seem more irritable lately. Can you tell me what’s going on?” This can provide an opportunity for your child to express their feelings and concerns. 
  4. Sleep Matters Talk: Discuss sleep patterns openly by asking questions like “Have you been having trouble falling asleep?” or “Have you had any bad dreams lately?” This can help you understand if anxiety is affecting their sleep, providing insights into their emotional well-being. 
  5. Encourage Expressing Worries: Foster an environment where your child feels comfortable expressing worries. Use prompts like “Is there anything specific that’s been making you feel worried?” or “Are there any thoughts that keep coming back to your mind?” This can help them acknowledge their anxieties and facilitate healthy discussions around them. 


By identifying these signs early and seeking help from organizations like Alexander Youth Network, you can assist your child in managing their anxiety and then to thrive both academically and personally. If you suspect your child may be dealing with anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Your support and understanding can make a significant difference in their well-being. 

Written by Brenna Drury

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