By Dr. Liz Matheis
Featured on Shield HealthCare
Living with anxiety is hard enough. Living with a child with anxiety can leave a parent feeling the urgent need to ‘make it better.’ As an anxious person/parent yourself, you know how hard it is to sit with the anxiety and the strong desire to decrease those negative feelings that make it hard to function.
Anxiety can often times look like ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) because of the negative impact it has on focus and attention. That is, imagine your child is presented with a math worksheet with 20 problems. She looks at the sheet and thinks, “I have to do all of this? I’m not good at Math? What if I get all of it wrong?” And the list of thoughts continues on. None of them are positive or encouraging. Now your child is internally focused and is not paying attention to the directions the teacher just provided (which may have been to complete the addition problems only, by the way!).
Anxiety also impacts comprehension and auditory processing. For example, your child is asked to take out his Science book, open it to page 57, complete questions 1-5, tear the page out of the book and place it in the wire basket on the teacher’s desk. For many children, that long list of instructions triggers an anxious response that leaves her unable to process because she is now thinking, “Oh my goodness. I can’t do all that. How am I going to remember how to do all of that?”