Anxiety is a common problem for children today.
I have worked in schools as a therapist since 2012, both in traditional and behavioral schools. Through my very close work with students and teachers, both through individual therapy and with classroom presentation and observation, I see how frequently anxiety occurs - and how it is often overlooked by parents and professionals.
Anxiety in children can look a lot different than anxiety in adults.
When most people look for anxiety, they expect to see jittery behaviors, shyness, or perfectionism. Separation anxiety looks like clingy behaviors and difficulty with transitioning from home to school. Social anxiety looks like difficulty in forming friendships. But we miss a crucial key in children.
Kids who seem oppositional, angry, or aggressive are often very anxious.
The Child Mind Institute has a great article exploring how a baseline anxiety in children can often burst out as anger, frustration, and disobedience. Consider how anxiety would lead to these externalizing behaviors. A child with social anxiety gets called out by their teacher for having the wrong answer in front of the class, and decides to run out of the classroom. A middle schooler jokes with friends throughout class and interrupts the teacher consistently, because they are worried that they won't understand the work anyway. A pre-schooler kicks and hits their mother at the beginning of every day at school - because they are too worried to enter the room.
The article continues, "...disruptive behavior is often generated by unrecognized anxiety. A child who appears to be oppositional or aggressive may be reacting to anxiety—anxiety he may, depending on his age, not be able to articulate effectively, or not even fully recognize that he’s feeling."
If your child or teen in St. Louis is experiencing anxiety, or is getting in to trouble at school consistently, consider taking them in for a counseling assessment. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an initial phonecall consultation, free to you.