Patterns of anxiety
We see many children and adults who are both anxious and tired. For many families, stress and anxiety is the new normal and they are aware of its existence. Anxiety is a corrosive state because it undermines health in the long term as well as the capacity to learn in the short term.
When you can’t understand what others around you are saying, it is easy to become anxious. Because you don’t know what is expected of you and you don’t know what others intend. We see this in many children who are under-performing or who have a learning difficulty. For instance, those with poor pitch discrimination are often tired by the extra effort needed to identify the key verbal messages they are listening to. Those with poor pitch discriminators can also experience a chronic uncertainty about what is really meant by those speaking to them which is a significant cause of anxiety, stress and poor social skills in the children we see and treat.
We see many children with anxiety that is hidden from even their parents. Bright children can be very good at hiding their anxiety. Many parents who are juggling the work-home tightrope are often under so much pressure themselves that they are unable to perceive the stress and anxiety in their children. One bright boy when asked what it was like to be seven answered: “It’s kinda hard”, when I asked why, he expanded: “My dad tells me all that I need to do to for my life.” [His father is successful lawyer from a non-English speaking background].
Listening Anxiety can spill over into a Learning Anxiety. This involves a fear of trying something new because it will be too difficult or make them look stupid or fail. Clients with learning anxiety tend to develop ways to avoid these situations.
Some of my clients avoid team sports because they say they dislike them. The real reason for this avoidance is that they find it too hard to run and follow the ball and listen to the instructions. Simply they can’t cope with team sports because they overload.
How we can help stress and anxiety
Listening therapy is designed to improve attention and comprehension. Therefore we can reduce the uncertainty about what the people around us expect of us – our parents, peers, teachers, friends and siblings. By improving attention, comprehension and learning we can reduce the gap between a clients aspirations and their achievements and deliver a more satisfying connection between a clients efforts at school and their results. In this process we can build self-esteem, capacity as well as reliance.