BATTLING BLUES- Dr Carolyn Yaffe from Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic tells us how to spot the signs of anxiety in children returning to school.

Many children experience anxiety upon returning to  school following the summer break, which is perfectly  normal and understandable. Dr Carolyn Yaffe from the  Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic offers advice to  parents on how to identify anxiety in their children and  assist them in overcoming any worries they may have  about returning to school following the summer break. 

How to recognise anxiety 

Anxiety disorders are characterised by a wide range of  symptoms according to Dr Yaffe. Children who suffer  from an anxiety disorder have excessive and persistent  worry and terror about everyday situations that exceed  normal limits. Frequently, anxiety disorders manifest  through episodes of severe anxiety, fear, or terror that  reach a peak within minutes — commonly referred to as  panic attacks. 

Reasons kids get stressed 

In a child’s life, stress can be a response to any type of  unpleasant change that occurs. A child’s sense of safety  and security, according to Dr Yaffe, can be badly affected  by even the smallest of changes. Worrying about  schoolwork or grades, juggling multiple responsibilities  such as school, exams, or extra-curricular activities, social  difficulties with friends or peers, bullying, starting a new  school or moving to a new location, experiencing low  self-esteem and negative thoughts about oneself, going  

through puberty, and physical changes in both boys and  girls, are all examples of common stressors for children. 

Easing anxiety 

Following a year of remote learning, Dr Yaffe believes  that some children have suffered an emotional, mental,  and developmental toll on returning to school full-time.  Some youngsters believe they have fallen behind both  academically and socially. While some students will be  happy to see their classmates and teachers again, others  who have been accustomed to online learning may feel  overwhelmed in a new social environment.

Dr Yaffe’s advice is to keep an eye on your child’s  behaviour when they return to school. She suggests  paying attention to indicators of despair or anxiety. Some  of their symptoms may include being reclusive, having  difficulty sleeping, or experiencing abdominal or other  bodily pain as a result of this stress. Moreover, students  who may have been subjected to cyberbullying while  participating in remote learning may face additional  stress when participating in school social activities. 

No matter how your child reacts to attending school in  person, encourage open communication by asking them  how they are doing. If your children exhibit any signs of  depression or anxiety, it is important to acknowledge and  validate their feelings. Your encouragement may urge them to remain open and honest with you. At the same time, reassure children that they are safe and that the schools are following public health recommendations to ensure their safety. You should try to make them feel secure and comfortable, as well as assure them that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. 

Covid-19 and stress levels 

Children may be at a loss for what to do or how to process their experiences and feelings during this period of extreme stress and fear. Changes in typical routines, such as school or social activities, may result in an increase in stress and worry. There is an elevated level of stress, worry, depression, and difficulties in controlling emotions when their schedule keeps alternating. As a result of the pandemic, family tensions have escalated, and parents have seen significant changes in their family dynamics, which can have a severe effect on their child’s mental health. Frequently, youngsters are anxious about the health of their parents and loved ones. They may know or have known people who have had cases of Covid-19 and perhaps died, which can result in intense anxiety, nightmares, and persistent and intrusive thoughts about their concerns. Parents should seek assistance from a mental health professional in these instances. 

 

Source: Khaleej Times