Best Strategies to Help Primary School Children with Anxiety

K P Sheeja
May 20, 2021
Child Care Tips

Consider this scenario: Your child is irritable; they have difficulty sleeping with low concentration in the classes. Grades are changing, and they have refused to attend classes or go back to school. These are just some of the symptoms that your child suffers from anxiety or depression.

Here are a few ways to help you deal with the anxiety situation

1. Pay Attention to the Symptoms

Not all parents recognise the symptoms of anxiety and depression. But if you see your child acting out of character, if they are moody, irritable, and quite different from how they used to be, then those changes could be caused by anxiety or depression. Watch out for those signs. They’re not going to go away on their own, and thinking that they will turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes in your life.

2. Understand What It is and Not

Know what anxiety and depression mean and how different they are from sadness. Is your child moping because they can’t go back to school with friends? Are they crying because they want to go to school, and you don’t want to let them go back because you’re not comfortable with the thought yet, even with safety measures in place at your child’s primary school? Your child having the occasional blues is entirely different from your child feeling hopeless, seeing no reason to live, and having suicidal thoughts. By fully understanding the condition, you’ll know enough never to dismiss it or mistake it as something else. You’ll know enough to act, to get your child help before it’s too late.

3. Talk to the Teacher

Find out what’s wrong. It can be trouble at school that your child doesn’t want you to know. Teachers are often in the know about these things. Faculty at schools in Singapore like GIIS is supportive and believes in a student-centric approach. Set up a video call with your child’s instructor. Ask how your child is doing in school. Do they have friends? Are they participating in the classes? Does the teacher think there’s anything wrong or troublesome about the way their classmates treat them? These questions can help you get to the bottom of the issue. Identifying the problem is the first step to fixing it. You can’t fix it, though, if you don’t know what’s broken or why. 

4. Don’t Use Blame

Have a conversation with your child. Don’t lead with accusations, though. Using that approach is bound to fail. If your child thinks that you’re going to scold, ground or use punishments, that’s going to make them clam up. They are not going to open up to you the way you need them to, and that’s going to get in the way of your child getting the assistance she needs.

5. Don’t Judge Your Child

When your child starts talking about their anxiety, how it feels unbearable, how hopeless everything seems to be, and how utterly pointless and meaningless it is to live, don’t automatically think that your child is only trying to get your attention. Suicidal thoughts are not a ploy for your affection. Don’t judge your child. If you always think the worst of your child, that could be one reason why they are suffering from anxiety or depression.

6. Be Patient

It can be hard to be patient when you are also chasing after deadlines. It can be hard to be patient when you are also trying to make sense of your work or a world in the wake of the pandemic. But remember, your child is young and is going through the same experience. It is already hard enough to deal with the pressure from the different social media platforms out there. There are also academic goals, soul-crushing math tests, school crushes, and more. Add the pandemic to the equation, and it is not a surprise that so many of the children are anxious or depressed. Practice patience! It is not that your child wants to give you a hard time. Rather, it’s that they are also having a hard time themselves.

7. Show That You Care

Your encouragement means a lot to your little one. It can have a massively positive impact on your child’s personality and self-esteem. Children who know they are loved tend to have high self-esteem levels and confidence. And that helps them cope with the anxiety as well as prevent depression. By showing your child that you love and care for them, you give them the best affirmation to ward off the anxiety and depression, to keep them at bay: you tell them – they are worth it. 

8. Look at Your Behavior

How do you treat your child? Do you hold? Do hugs come naturally to you and your child? If that isn’t the case, then the anxiety or depression that your child might be feeling could be caused by the way you treat your little one. For instance, think back to any instances when your child will cry. Do you pick them up? Do you hold them close to comfort and console them? If you don’t, that lack of physical affection, that distance, will feel like a rejection, especially to primary and pre-primary school children. It could be one of the reasons why your child is depressed. Consider changing your behaviour. Those changes can do a lot to result in positive improvements in your child’s mindset and behaviour.

9. Focus on Listening

Not all of us are gifted with the ability to listen. It’s not just about hearing your child talk about their day. When was the last time you really listened? When was the last time you sat down with your child, asked interested and engaged questions instead of rushing through the story, or listening while you typed a report on your laptop? Learn how to listen effectively. Stop what you’re doing and focus on your child. That’s how it works. Children can be susceptible to these things. They know when you’re not paying attention or when your mind is elsewhere. By focusing on what your child is saying, you’ll have a better idea of what’s happening. Your interest, too, can prevent that anxiety from getting worse.

10. Listen with Insight

You don’t just listen with your ears. Learn how to listen with your heart. That means, what is your child not telling you? If you’re attentive enough, you might catch that moment of hesitation. You might figure out that there’s something more to the incident than what your child lets on. This also means that you know your child so well to the point that even when they don’t say anything, you can tell there’s something wrong. And while you don't want to push them into anything, you might want them to come to you first about the problem. If you know how to listen, you can hopefully sense when your child is overwhelmed and drowning. When that happens, don’t hesitate to step in.

Your child will ask you about the future. What’s going to happen after COVID-19. Will school ever go back to the way it was? What’s going to happen to a friend’s sick relative? You can research as much as you need to just to be ready with the answers. But you can’t lie. Don’t tell your child everything’s going to be alright. Be honest about what’s happening. Let them know they are loved, and you are there to support them. You can do that and still keep a positive mindset.

K P Sheeja

Is the Academic Supervisor for CBSE at the GIIS SMART Campus. One of the pioneer generation of teachers with GIIS, she comes from a family of educators and has been teaching English to students for the past 25 years. She believes her job as a teacher also includes mentoring and being a friend to her students.

Related Topics

More from same author