Anxiety and it's role in disruptive behaviour

Hi Everyone and welcome to my Blog. If this is your first visit then you may like to have a look at my previous Blogs on raising resilient kids in these crazy times.

Today, I’d like to expand on a subject I touched upon briefly in two previous blogs “When I Met My Hero” and ”Absence of Stress”.

Anxiety…… A big word of not many letters. Pretty scary word? So it seems.

This is a huge subject on peoples lips and there is so much information out there, I almost feel overwhelmed when I think of what I want to write. So, here goes.

Let’s break it down…..

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Everybody experiences it. Anxiety is a perfectly normal and often helpful part of life. Yes, I said helpful.

For example, feeling anxious before an exam, a public speech or musical concert might make you more alert and improve your performance. I like this side of Anxiety :)

But unfortunately, for many it becomes a problem when it doesn’t subside.

Anxiety causes many symptoms, both psychological and physical, and as we learn more about it with the research being carried out, we are beginning to understand the many ‘faces’ of Anxiety. It presents itself in surprising ways, and is now linked to many behavioural issues in children.

According to an article I read, written by Caroline Miller for the Child Mind Institute, “Kids who seem oppositional are often severely anxious”.

Here’s some common words I hear in my clinic, tantrums, trouble sleeping, trouble separating from parents, disruptive or struggling in school , acting out.

From being what is considered “painfully shy” and not being able to speak to people, to the other extreme of having meltdowns and throwing tantrums. Let’s not forget the elaborate rituals like compulsive hand washing. Are these ‘behavioural’ issues?

We may look at these kids and think they are being defiant, attention-seeking, have learning disorders, have anger issues or even have ADHD.

Let’s take a moment to ponder something. Very often, children do not have the awareness skills to recognise and communicate what is actually bothering them in times of stress/ anxiety.

We need to adjust our thinking. Are they actually anxious?

Consider the following:

  • Avoidance of activities

  • Appears shy

  • Easily scared

  • Nervous/ Clingy

  • Perfectionism

  • Withdrawal of social situations

  • Aggression - can be subtle

  • Hesitant to begin tasks

  • Opposition and defiance

  • Rigidity and inflexibility with negative outlook

I realise that some of these could be considered behavioural problems. They’re actually possible signs that your chid is anxious.

(NB. The above is not a clinical diagnostic test for children)

The majority of material I read suggested the following as really great tools to overcome anxiety.

Slow breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, staying in the present moment and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

So before we hit the doctor up for a script, consider alternatives.

Because Anxiety is so prevalent in our children, fantastic programs and resources are being created.

Let’s help the children now, so they don’t become adults who don’t know how to manage their anxiety and are ‘crippled’ by it. Children quite literally are our future. Let’s teach them how to survive and thrive.

I’m currently delivering a program at one of my local Primary Schools, teaching children the very skills they need for coping with Anxiety and Stress. I’ve been getting some fantastic, positive feedback from the kids parents and teachers.

This is a beautiful program designed specifically for school age children (Prep to Year 12), and it’s fun. It’s so much easier to teach kids something if fun is involved.

Follow the link to my website, to read about the Peaceful Kids Program. It teaches and provides all of the above recommended tools (and more) for children to recognise and manage their anxiety.

I’ve just released the dates for Term 4 on my Facebook Page. Check it out.

Thanks for joining me in this Blog. Until next time :)

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I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.

This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.