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What Does Anxiety Look Like?

Anxiety can look like defiance, aggression, avoidance, or plain not listening. However, when a child is anxious and their body is triggered to protect itself, there are some changes that happen in the brain.

There is a reduction in blood flow to the “thinking” parts of the brain. In addition, the memory centers and hearing are not as active. The body is focused on survival and this means that the child may also be dealing with a flood of chemicals that elevate blood pressure, increase heart rate, and can lead to the child feeling overwhelmed. The “noise” from their bodies make thinking difficult.

Instead of pushing harder to get the child to respond, creating a safe space for them while they regulate can be helpful. If you have a student with significant anxiety, you may agree to only call on them if they raise their hand. This can help them to feel more prepared and be able to regulate better.

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