“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
Every day our children face difficult circumstances, whether they be emotional, social, physical or academic in nature. Finding the resourcefulness to face what we fear or find challenging requires acting with courage.
What is the source of this fear and anxiety and what is its purpose in our human experience?
Anxiety is, in fact, the work of a healthy brain that is doing the work of keeping us safe. We are wired to be moved to caution when our brains sense threat, activating the “fight or flight” response. Healthy stress and anxiety are something to be understood and then managed through supportive relationships, mindfulness practices, and the cultivation of courage.
This March and April, junior school students are learning what anxiety is, what it feels like, and how to manage it. By using age-appropriate language to explain the science of anxiety, we can thereby normalize it so that children are able to recognize it and adults are able to support, adjusting conditions and expectations if necessary. We can also highlight courage and resilience where appropriate.
Anxiety, although it is the work of a healthy brain, is on the rise in our children, and we are ever aware of ways to reduce unnecessary stress and separation in their lives. Educating and engaging in dialogue about mental health, inviting our children to share their worries with us, and being attuned to their emotional needs are all key factors in healthy human development.