We’re so glad you found us! And we’re also glad you asked about kids with anxiety because it’s a really really important subject. And with 5 anxious kids between us, we have firsthand experience with childhood anxiety in many different forms.
Here’s something to think about: the average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950s. Clearly, today’s kids are having a much tougher time overcoming anxiety and, if the women we’ve interviewed represent the general population, anxiety in kids has reached epidemic proportions. As an educator, I feel the exponential increase in childhood (and adult) anxiety and know how disruptive it can be in the classroom.
As a teacher, you obviously have to deal with anxious kids every day. Unfortunately, current teacher education curricula not designed specifically for special education teachers pays anxiety in the classroom short shrift. Anxiety is mainstream—no longer confined to special ed classrooms, so many many teachers feel ill-prepared to deal with this issue. So….some solutions:
If you are able to attend a training course offered by a local university or reputable counseling group, that can be extremely helpful (but also expensive so see if your district/school can chip in).
The following are internet resources for teachers we really like:
- http://worrywisekids.org/node/40 (How to Accommodate Anxious Kids in the Classroom)
- anxietysisters.com (several blogs on dealing with anxious kids and interactive forums where teachers and parents can share ideas and information)
Some general suggestions for dealing with anxiety in the classroom:
- Start with a short meditation or deep breathing session
- Get outside and run around (releases endorphins and distracts from anxiety)
- Share stories (community building and de-stigmatizing)
- Notice nature (distraction)
- Develop an IEP (working with individual students is crucial)
- Stick to routine and be organized
- Be calm
- Create a safe space timeout for overwhelmed kids
- Make mistakes okay (encourage them)
We’ll be doing a lot more on this topic in the form of blogs and podcasts so stay tuned.
Let us know what works (and what doesn’t!)