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    Supporting Children to Recognise and Manage their Anxiety


    Kennedy, Aislinn (2019) Supporting Children to Recognise and Manage their Anxiety. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    We have a crisis on our hands and its victims are our children. Childhood anxiety increases the risk of educational underachievement, depression, substance misuse, and suicide in early adulthood. Irish studies show that one in three children are likely to have experienced a mental disorder by the time they are thirteen years old and by twenty-four years old, that number will have risen to one in two. Anxiety disorders are one of the top contributors to the global burden of disease for young people. High levels of anxiety in school-aged children affect both their quality of life and their ability to benefit fully from their school experiences. School is one of the most important places for the promotion of mental health. The classroom teacher is the best placed professional to work sensitively and consistently with children to effect educational outcomes. My study focused on how I, a Resource Teacher in a large mixed senior school, supported four sixth class children to use vital life skills to recognise and manage anxiety with the involvement of their parents and class teachers. I was concerned with children not having the skills to recognise and manage ‘normal’ anxiety which if left untreated could lead to mental health problems. I was driven by my values of empowerment, social justice, equality, hope and positivity to do action research in an effort to address my inadequacies in supporting a growing number of children with anxiety. My objective was to test my living theory of social justice to empower children to develop self-regulation skills for immediate transformation and potentially lifelong application. My Intervention entailed six one-hour lessons that aimed to give children with no anxiety diagnosis, anxiety recognition and management skills. My anxiety management strategies included discussion, mindfulness and positive self-talk. My anxiety recognition strategies included reflection, emotional literacy, identifying how our body reacts to different feelings, building on self-confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness. I deemed a mixed method approach as the most suitable for my action research. My findings showed that hidden anxiety was present in all four Intervention children. The children grew to quickly recognise anxiety in themselves and each other. Once the anxiety was recognised, they applied the strategies learned which were further supported by their parents and class teachers if needed. The discussion highlighted the transformational changes each child experienced in their own unique way. Parents grew in self-confidence and knowledge using the Intervention strategies resulting in their child being better able to manage their worries. All teachers reported the usefulness of learning the strategies for supporting anxious children. This study contributed to a life-long transformation of my personal and professional development. Schools are ideal for supporting children’s social and emotional development. Based on my learning and critical reflection of my Intervention, I plan to further adapt and integrate these strategies throughout my teaching career to children and advising parents and colleagues who seek advice on them from me.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Keywords: supporting;children; recognise; manage; anxiety; Froebel; Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 13704
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2020 16:53
    URI:

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