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Pupils with anxiety


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#1 trio

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 15:34

Hi all, I wondered if anyone else was noticing an increase in children with anxiety problems?  I have two at the moment, one nine year old girl who is chewing the skin on her fingers until she is in pain (happy home and under no pressure from parents, just from herself) and another 13 year old boy who has severe anxiety in my opinion (another happy home as far as I can tell, and his younger brother is absolutely fine) and we gain nothing from his lessons except me being a listening ear.  He is too agitated to play much and we are doing very basic material to keep things easy.  In his last exam he had a break down and sobbed but a very considerate examiner talked him gently through it and he did pass.  He was reassured he didn't need to do the exam at all stages but insisted.  I think he should stop lessons really except that he would see it as another failure.  It seems so sad - is this the world our children now live in?

 


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#2 thara96

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 15:43

They probably are stressed about the exam. It might be a idea to talk to them and reassure them that everyone has exams? Can he wait or not? If the thought of exams is terrifying him, is it possible to skip it? 


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#3 trio

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 16:37

We are not focusing on exams at all - totally beyond him.  This is a much bigger whole life issue.  The 9 year old is a beginner so the word exam has never been mentioned.


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#4 Misterioso

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 17:30

I believe there is an increase in children with anxiety problems, mostly because of the way in which they lives their lives today. Everything, but everything is so much more goal-oriented, and there is much more pressure put on children these days in terms of education, endless tests, exams etc. I also believe social media has played a large part, and that the less active lives people live mean that anxiety can build up instead of being released in harmless ways.

 

Have you asked the 9-year-old what is making her anxious? Does she enjoy her lessons? Can you work out why she feels a need to put pressure on herself? Gently teasing out some of the answers (perhaps over a period of time) may encourage her to open up. Does she feel this way at school / home, or just in music lessons? You could try helping her to see your teaching room as a "safe space" and encourage her to enjoy what she plays for its own sake. Maybe introduce a fun element or two (I'm not suggesting at all that your lessons aren't fun!) just to help her relax and laugh. Does she have any underlying health problems (anxiety disorder, Asperger's, etc, etc). The finger-chewing may be an ingrained habit, or just because she needs to do something with her hands in the gaps when she is not actively playing. Could you suggest something else for her to fiddle with that is less damaging / painful - eg a stress ball or other item?

 

The 13-year-old does, as you say, have a bigger issue, and from what you say it sounds as though the parents are aware of it - and hopefully taking appropriate steps. It could be that off-loading to you is one of his forms of release and may be very necessary in just helping him to negotiate life. As long as the parents understand that it eats into lesson time and is the reason that he is not really progressing, it seems you are doing all you can.

 

I live myself with an anxiety disorder, and understand how debilitating and overwhelming it can be. Finding "escape hatches" is just one important way that can help, channelling their energy into something that they can get absorbed in. It might be that these two find you such an "escape hatch" and as long as you feel able to work with the limitations this imposes, I don't think you can do any more for them without stepping outwith the boundaries of being a music teacher. 


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#5 trio

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 19:16

Misteriso, I totally agree with your first paragraph. This is a very sad problem in children’s lives today. 

 

The 9 yr old girl is totally fine in her music lesson, her mum tells me she her anxiety is in school. She brings a stress ball with her to her to her music lesson but hasn’t used it and her sore fingers are from the school day. Her mum is chasing up psychiatric help through the school. 
 

The parents are ok with the 13 not doing much in the music lesson for the sake of keeping it going for now.  I agree, that is all he needs at the moment, but I do feel out of my depth sometimes with the angst he expresses. 


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#6 ma non troppo

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 20:46

I am seeing a far higher incidence of "melt down" in secondary school age children than I used to decades ago. I think it's down to increased goal pressure in schools, but also possibly some of it is down to social media etc.

When we were kids (us older folk here), if we were having a difficult time and being bullied at school, we got to come home and shut it all out. Now it follows you into the bedroom. It's hard enough to deal with internet attacks as an adult, but we at least have a bit more data input to be better at coping with it in general.

I do feel rather sorry for kids today.

I think schools need to back off with the pressure and the homework - in the old days we had far more time for extra curricular and social activities - which are equally as important
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#7 ma non troppo

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 20:52

Sorry for the follow on post, but I just want to add that some schools are now starting children on their GCSE courses a year early - i.e in Year 9 - and they are stressing them out with it (in my experience). We used to do around 8 O'levels in my day - but now 12 subjects is common.
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