It is now the end of September and the back to school honeymoon is over. Has the school called about any behavioural issues? Have you noticed problems at home?
When school-aged children act out it is usually related to one of the three As:
At normal levels, anxiety feels natural and is even helpful, as it generally triggers you to prepare, get things done, be careful or be cautious. However, at higher levels anxiety can cause great distress.
When anxiety disrupts the quality of life this way, it is sometimes labelled as GAD (general anxiety disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), phobias, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), separation anxiety, performance anxiety or social anxiety.
Every type of anxiety has symptoms that differ between people and type. Physical symptoms may include sweating, rapid heart rate, short fast breathing, headache, tight chest and more. Emotional symptoms might be crying, sadness, anger, worry or fear. Mental symptoms might be negative thoughts that feed on each other and take the thinker to catastrophe.
If anxiety is the core concern that is motivating your child’s acting out behaviour, then relaxation and CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) will help. Seek professional help to alleviate the anxiety so it stops causing problems.
ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. Many people have been diagnosed with it or have self-diagnosed themselves. Barrie psychologist Dr. George Renfrey once told me that expecting a child with ADD to be calm and attentive at school is like expecting a hunter to sit and watch grass grow.
For a child with ADD, being at school and conforming to the classroom expectations can be difficult. This applies equally to a student with any learning challenge.
Focus and concentration are hard and so is feeling secure and confident. When it seems like all of the other students are understanding the work and getting praised from the teacher, the student with ADD can be left feeling frustrated and discouraged.
If ADD or another learning challenge is the core concern underlying your child’s problems at school, there are many things that may help, including: dietary changes, the strengths-based approach, creative learning strategies, behaviour modification, self-esteem boosting exercises, and more.
Anger makes us feel powerful and less vulnerable. However, anger is a surface emotion. The core emotions below anger are fear and sadness. For school-aged students thrust into an environment with hundreds of other kids, anger can be the best defense against anyone who bullies, ostracizes or teases them.
They act out their anger at school and get in trouble. Or they may hold all the feelings at bay at school and release the anger at home. The smallest thing may trigger them because they feel like a volcano just ready to blow.
If the teacher or principal calls to report that your child was disciplined or suspended because he or she acted out in anger, or if your home life is being disrupted by your child’s anger, then it is time to determine what is bringing on the anger.
If problems have started to surface now that your child has been back to school for a few weeks, consider which of these three As might be the problem. Reaching out for professional help is an important step towards addressing these issues. At Family TLC, we get to the core concerns and create a care plan that results in long-lasting solutions.