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Anxiety in Elementary School Aged Children

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Anxiety is a normal part of life, but when it becomes overwhelming and interferes with daily activities, it can be a cause for concern. While anxiety is often associated with adults, it is also a common issue among children, including those in elementary school.

In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children, and symptoms often begin around the age of six. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to understand the signs and causes of anxiety in elementary school aged children and how to help them cope.

 

Signs of Anxiety in Elementary School Aged Children

Anxiety can manifest in different ways in children, and it’s important to recognize the signs so you can help your child manage their anxiety. Some common signs of anxiety in elementary school aged children include:

Physical Symptoms

Anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue. Children may also experience muscle tension, sweating, and rapid breathing.

Behavioral Changes

Anxious children may exhibit behavioral changes such as irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. They may also become more clingy and have trouble sleeping.

Avoidance

Children with anxiety may try to avoid situations or activities that trigger their anxiety. This could include avoiding school, social events, or even certain people.

Excessive Worrying

Anxious children may worry excessively about everyday things, such as schoolwork, friendships, or family issues. They may also have a hard time letting go of worries and may constantly seek reassurance.

 

Causes of Anxiety in Elementary School Aged Children

There is no single cause of anxiety in children, but it is often a combination of factors that contribute to their anxiety. Some common causes of anxiety in elementary school aged children include:

Academic Pressure

As children progress through elementary school, the academic pressure can increase. They may feel overwhelmed by the amount of schoolwork and the expectations placed on them by teachers and parents.

Social Pressures

Elementary school is a time when children are learning how to navigate social situations and form friendships. This can be a source of anxiety for some children, especially if they struggle with social skills or feel pressure to fit in.

Family Issues

Family issues such as divorce, financial problems, or a family member’s illness can also contribute to a child’s anxiety. Children may worry about their family’s well-being and how these issues will affect their daily lives.

Traumatic Events

Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or a car accident, can also cause anxiety in children. They may have trouble processing the event and may develop anxiety as a result.

 

How to Help Your Child Cope with Anxiety

If you suspect your child is struggling with anxiety, there are steps you can take to help them cope. Here are some strategies to try:

Validate Their Feelings

It’s important to let your child know that their feelings are valid and that it’s okay to feel anxious. Avoid dismissing their feelings or telling them to “just relax.” Instead, listen to them and offer support and understanding.

Teach Coping Skills

Help your child develop coping skills to manage their anxiety. This could include deep breathing exercises, positive self-talk, or visualization techniques. Encourage them to practice these skills when they are feeling anxious.

Create a Safe Space

Children with anxiety may benefit from having a designated safe space where they can go when they are feeling overwhelmed. This could be a quiet corner in their room or a cozy spot in the house where they can relax and calm down.

Seek Professional Help

If your child’s anxiety is significantly impacting their daily life, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. Bill Reichle can work with your child to develop coping strategies and address any underlying issues contributing to their anxiety.

 

How Schools Can Help

Schools also play a crucial role in supporting children with anxiety. Here are some ways schools can help:

Educate Teachers and Staff

It’s important for teachers and staff to understand the signs and symptoms of anxiety in children. This will help them identify students who may be struggling and provide appropriate support.

Create a Supportive Environment

Schools can create a supportive environment for anxious children by implementing strategies such as flexible seating arrangements, allowing breaks during class, and providing a designated safe space for students to go when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Offer Resources

Schools can also offer resources for students and parents, such as workshops on managing anxiety, support groups, and referrals to mental health professionals.

 

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

As a parent or caregiver, there are things you can do to support your child’s mental health and help them manage their anxiety. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Practice Self-Care

It’s important for parents and caregivers to take care of their own mental health. This will not only benefit you, but it will also set a good example for your child.

Communicate Openly

Encourage open communication with your child. Let them know they can come to you with any worries or concerns they may have. This will help them feel supported and understood.

Be Patient

Managing anxiety takes time and patience. Be patient with your child and celebrate their progress, no matter how small it may seem.

Seek Support

Don’t be afraid to seek support for yourself as well. Join a support group for parents of anxious children or talk to a therapist about your own feelings and concerns.

 

Conclusion

Anxiety is a common issue among elementary school aged children, but with the right support and strategies, they can learn to manage their anxiety and thrive. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to educate yourself on the signs and causes of anxiety and to seek help if needed. By working together, we can help our children overcome their anxiety and reach their full potential.

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Bill Reichle Owner, Mental Health Therapist
Bill is the owner of Avanti Consulting LLC. Bill consults and works with families, children, and adults.