By Dr. Tyla Phillip, Ed.D., Huntington Learning Center
Did you know? Students of all ages have a lot on their plate. Students have fears and worries just like anyone else. However, their fears and worries may be different than those of an adult. A child has fears and worries; they even experience sadness at times. Starting from an early age, a child observes a lot, and they are shown even more. As a child develops, so does their mind. I always remember the old saying, “A child’s mind is like a sponge.” Children can acquire most knowledge naturally.
Just the same as adults, children deal with some of the same things. One of the highly discussed things among adults is anxiety and the daily difficulties they face. Anxiety is often associated with weakness or meekness. In adolescents, anxiety and depression can look quite different.
The conversation needs to be one that should happen. Being able to understand why, and how, is more needed than not. When talking about student anxiety, it is OK to acknowledge the fact that student anxiety is real. When a child does not outgrow the fears and worries that are typically found in young children, or even when there are so many fears and worries that they interfere with school, home or play activities, this can cause concerns. Smiling faces and a happy personality may be the first thoughts people have of a child, rather than sadness, but being sad or feeling hopeless is a part of every child’s life. Some children feel sad or uninterested in things that they used to enjoy or feel helpless or hopeless in situations they are unable to change. Children may feel persistent sadness and hopelessness.
No one is to blame, nor should anyone feel ashamed because of challenges. Being a child and becoming a teenager is making connections outside of the family and becoming attuned to world issues. All students can become vulnerable to mental health.
Anyone can go through a slump. Parents should take notice when they see abrupt behavior changes or if their children exhibit a sudden withdrawal from most common activities of interest. The biggest takeaway is seeing anxiety and fear of group situations or not performing well in or out of school. Remember not to judge someone going through things. Spend time listening and have an open ear when around someone who shows signs of anxiety and depression, as it may be a cry for help.