Skip to main content
district home

Parenting Tips #5: Anxiety in children

April 3, 2018 -- The last in a continuing series of tip sheets for parents, provided by Grades 4-6 math teacher Judith Walsh at Driver Middle School:

Anxiety: What is it?

photo of worried-looking child sitting on a swing
  • Fear of something that will or might happen
  • Overwhelming dread
  • Physically unpleasant
  • Strong desire for escape or avoidance
  • Helpful in small doses
  • Partially based on genetics, so it can be inherited
  • Sometimes noticeable when very young
    • Separation anxiety
    • Trouble sleeping
    • High sensitivity to changes, noise
    • Shyness
  • Upsetting life events can bring out anxiety
    • Family stress
    • Illness
    • Accidents
    • Lack of predictable routines

Anxiety: When does it become a problem?

  • Most kids experience typical anxiety from time to time
    • Toddlers can experience fear of dark, strangers, separation
    • Elementary kids can experience worries about learning, friends, getting hurt, or transitions to new grade levels
    • Teenagers can experience fear of social rejection, grades, future prospects

Problematic Anxiety

  • Is frequent or constant
  • Occurs when there is no real or serious threat
  •  Interferes with daily functioning
  • Causes avoidance of necessary activities
  • Disrupts family or social relationships

Anxiety presents in many ways

  • Fearfulness
  • Strong emotional reactions
  • Obsessive worries
  • Getting stuck
  • Can’t make a decision
  • Needy
  • Overly apologetic
  • Avoidance
  • Irritability/tantrums
  • Hesitant
  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Oppositional
  • Constantly doubtful
  • Negative thinking
  • Resistant

Explaining anxiety to children

  • Anxiety is a feeling, and it also causes us to think and act in certain ways to avoid things that can be harmful
  • Everyone has anxiety from time to time
  • Anxiety can set off false alarms, making us think something is harmful when it isn’t
  • When anxiety bothers us so much that we can’t do what we need to do or can’t enjoy life, we need to do some things to help ourselves
  • We can deal with false alarms by calming our body down, thinking good and true thoughts, and beating anxiety by doing the opposite

Strategies to use when feeling anxious

  • Belly breathing: deep breathing by breathing in by pushing out belly 
  • Muscle relaxation: tighten and release muscles
 
  • Relaxing Imagery: Picture a happy place 
  • Focusing attention for relaxation: Focus all your attention on an object 
  • Questioning anxiety: Test if the worry can really happen 
  • Self Talk: Tell ourselves things that will make us feel better 
  • Separate from anxiety: Give anxiety a nickname. My anxiety is not me.
  • Incentives and rewards: Should be reasonable and fit with child’s interests 
  • Tracking accomplishments: Chart successes and what worked well 
  • Reminders: Objects, pictures or code words to take mind off of anxiety
Adapted from PowerPoint Presentation, “Anxiety and Kids,” by Dr. Aaron Gleason, West Hill High School, January 24, 2018.


 


Our Schools
K.C. Heffernan Elementary
C.S. Driver Middle School
Marcellus Sr. High School

Departments
Communications Office
Instructional Technology
Transportation
Buildings and Grounds
Food Service
Libraries
Athletics
High School Guidance

About Us
Administration
Marcellus Academic Club
Staff Directory
School Report Card
Board of Education
Employment Opportunities
Use of Facilities

District Info
District Calendar
Code of Conduct
Use of Facilities
APPR Plan
District RTI Plan
Emergency S.A.V.E. Plan
Common Core
Mandated Information
Sex Offender Registry

Staff Links
mediaCONNECT
NYSED
Personnel Links
Staff E-Mail
Sub Service
SchoolTool
Teacher Verification
AIMS Web
IEP Direct



Parents
School Messenger
SchoolTool Parent Portal
Dignity Act
Code of Conduct
New student Registration
Sex Offender Registry
Menus
How to Solve Problems
MySchoolBucks
Summer School