Many of you may know this story well; you go to wake your child up for school, but he or she doesn't want to go. Your child may complain of a stomach ache, or say that he/she feels sick. You look for signs of a cough, or fever, but you cannot find anything wrong. You normally would believe your child, but this has been happening a lot lately, and you're starting to notice a pattern. On top of not wanting to go to school, your son or daughter has also been refusing to attend social events with peers like sleepovers and such. You've asked around among parents and teachers to see if they've heard of any instances of bullying, and you've begun searching for ways to help eliminate barriers to your child's learning process, as anxiety tends to interfere with taking tests and concentration while at school. Your child may be suffering from school anxiety, or a school-related phobia. This is something many children will face throughout their lifetimes, and when it gets to the point of refusing to attend school, it's time to start looking into treatment options.
According to research, one out of eight children suffers from an anxiety disorder. While many will outgrow this with age, 41% will have lingering issues. As children age into young adults, anxiety becomes more prevalent with 25% of teens age 13-18 suffering from a form of mild to moderate anxiety. This leaves schools with much to overcome as they try to address the growing mental health needs of their students across the country. This problem has grown so intense over the years that some studies suggest that the average high schooler experiences the same level of anxiety today as a psychiatric patient did in the 1950s. That's a whole lot of anxiety for kids these days, and it only seems to be growing.
Anxiety in young children oftentimes presents in different forms of school anxiety. The three main forms of school anxiety deal with separation anxiety, social anxiety and test anxiety. At its most extreme, children may refuse to go to school. This form of school anxiety affects approximately 2-5% of children. Separation anxiety is a form of anxiety that a child will likely outgrow, as previously mentioned, and test anxiety is something that can be managed with a bit of extra support. Social anxiety, however, is something that can be a red flag for early stages of agoraphobia, could surround a bullying situation, or even be a sign of some sort of conflict or trouble going on in the home. Kids are also oftentimes stressed to the max with busy school and extracurricular schedules these days.
Regardless of the cause of such increases in anxiety, schools all over the country are in need of greater mental health services to help meet the needs of their students. According to reports by the National Institute on Mental Health, anxiety that goes untreated can turn into depression later in life, as well as lead to substance abuse and suicide. This issue is demanding the attention of education institutions across the country to beef up their mental health support. If you're concerned that your child or adolescent may be suffering from a form of school anxiety, or the onset of an anxiety disorder, here are some signs to look out for:
- Refusing to attend school or events with peers like sleepovers
- Pretending to be sick
- Sporadic or selective mutism
- Temper tantrums
- Night terrors or nightmares
- Low birth weight
- Intellectual disability (if under age 3)
- Dizzy spells
- Aches and pains
Treating Anxiety in Children
There are a variety of treatment options available for your child. What's important is that you're able to find the options that work best for him/her. These may include a variety of therapeutic techniques such as cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, social therapy, play therapy, and relaxation exercises. Having a creative outlet for your child to enjoy as well as encouraging outdoor physical activities is helpful in combating symptoms of anxiety in children. While some may opt to medicate their child, this is not the preferred treatment route for kids. There are also a variety of alternative treatment options available. One such option is adding a micronutrient supplement to your child's diet. Micronutrients have been shown in recent studies to be effective at treating anxiety, depression, ADHD, and trauma in children and adults.
For those of you who are interested in trying a micronutrient supplement, I recommend the Focus Essentials formula. They've developed a sophisticated blend of essential micronutrients sourced from some of the most healthy plants you can find to give you the most bang for your buck. In the event that you decide to try a bottle and discover this treatment option isn't right for you, the company will give you your money back. They just want everyone to be happy and to find healthy ways to manage their mental health in the way that works best for each individual.