Teacher Anne Lape says it’s normal for students to be anxious about the start of a new school year. But she says parents should be aware of the signs that a child is suffering from anxiety.
Lape wrote about childhood anxiety for FYI, which covers family issues in Southwest Michigan. She says something like starting at a new school causes a few butterflies. But Lape says if after a month of a new school year the student is staying up late, or displays changes in attitude and appetite it may be a sign of something more serious.
The story is personal for Lape. She says her 16 year old son has struggled with anxiety. Lape says she wanted to let other parents know they are not alone. She also talked with families with children that have dealt with anxiety. Those parents and their children are not identified by their real names in the story.
Lape says anxiety can be different for girls and boys. She says girls will push themselves trying for perfection, and may be complimented. But Lape says a girl striving to be perfect may not get all of her work done. She says boys may also want to be perfect, but see it’s impossible. Lape says those boys may not do any work at all, and maybe viewed as lazy.
Parents who talked to Lape for the story tried different coping mechanisms. She says those families all found success for their children. Lape says anxiety in children can be treated in many ways without prescribing medication. She says if parents suspect their child may suffer from anxiety, they should discuss it with their pediatrician. Lape says if it’s determined that a child does have anxiety, a collaborative effort is needed among doctors, teachers and parents.
Lape says it’s important for parents to listen to their child, and not minimize the problem. She says parents want to make everything OK, but can give the inadvertent signal to kids that they shouldn’t talk about it. Lape says listening can go farther then telling a child not to worry.