What is causing our 7 year olds to suffer from anxiety? As parents are WE able to identify between the regular anxious feelings that our young people begin to identify with as they transition through the adolescent years and the warning signs that there is something more debilitating afoot. If we can't differentiate then how can we possibly expect our young people to? A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in October 2010 identified anxiety as the most common adolescent mental disorder, with more that 30% of the 10,000 adolescents surveyed meeting the diagnostic criteria. 19% had experienced behavioural disorders and 14% had experienced mood disorders.
Our young people’s environments have become pressurised, secretive and sometime very lonely with the all-encompassing phenomena that is social media. An increase in a lack of connection to their supportive network of people (for differing reasons) often means a child becomes independent before their brains are ready for this. Coupled with the fact that their bodies are developing earlier and they transition into puberty at a younger age, confusion and anxiety manifest and this adolescent period that should be a time of exciting transformation becomes one of depression and loneliness. If unidentified psychological disorders such as eating disorders, self-harm and even suicide ideation develop.
What helps parents to understand what is normal and what isn’t when we talk about anxiety means understanding an adolescents neurodevelopment and being aware of the signals from our children that part of their brain has become a little ‘over protective’. When we are vigilant to these signs then we can help them to understand these feelings and give them a tool box internally to help them deal with whatever feelings arise. Helping them to navigate the challenges and encouraging young people to find solutions with our support is the way to build a child’s confidence that they CAN handle their emotions. If, however, as parents we somehow unknowingly over-protect and control the challenges our young people face and find solutions on their behalf, we are not encouraging the healthiest emotional development and coping mechanisms.
Yoga for children and adolescents is one of these valuable tools. There is now a vast amount of recent research that supports the fact that children who attend a regular yoga class cope much better with all the day-to-day challenges both practically and emotionally. Teaching younger children through yoga play how to use different breathing techniques (like the animals in Nature) to help quieten their busy minds, teaching them to help friends to do things that they perhaps find difficult. We talk about the importance of communication constantly… how we listen to others. Moving through to adolescents we introduce hormonal health, the lesser-recognised aspects of yoga class, respecting our bodies, treating them well through movement and breath work to help them navigate the challenges of adolescence.
If you would like details of a child or teen yoga class near you or you would like a private session with Amanda then you contact her at Amanda@praanawellness.com