Managing Anxiety For Better Learning Outcomes

Resources for Parenting, Child Anxiety, Emotional Regulation, & Character Development

Mental health means having emotional, psychological, and social well-being; when we think, act, and feel from a balanced perspective the majority of the time. Having a balanced and grounded perspective helps us make healthy choices, be kind, express emotion, accept help when we need it, handle stress effectively, feel empathy, laugh, feel joy, and relate to others easily. This is true in every stage of life. Working with your child’s feelings of anxiety may make them feel as though they require special accommodations which can get in the way of helping them feel “normal” and decrease their stress levels.

As young children grow, they develop the skills above with proper behavioral management and can even assist in managing other long term anxiety ridden conditions like depression, mental processing issues (such as low processing speeds), or a phobia of everyday activities like playing outside or simply facilitating a conversation at social events among their peers. If your child is struggling with anxiety and learning disabilities, you are not alone. Working with your child to develop a way to problem-solve that is effective for them can act as a remedial tool if you are concerned that your child feels frustrated or like they are falling behind.

Supporting and helping children can offer reassurance to your child struggling with anxiety. Many children could significantly benefit emotional regulation and wellness as a regular part of parenting. It’s also important for teachers, counselors, extended family, even coaches to spend time addressing emotional regulation and wellness as they interact with a child or teen. “It takes a village” as the old saying goes, and it’s still true today. We can all contribute to the health and well-being of a child. This is why understanding child anxiety and how it can affect their learning is essential. They need tools, techniques and resources to use as necessary (even daily if needed) to process and heal from difficult life experiences, everyday life challenges and managing anxiety. 

Leading Causes That Impact Children With Learning Disabilities (LDs) & Child Anxiety As Well As Anxiety Within Teens.

1.) Too much screen time

2.) Not enough sleep

Can too much screen time cause anxiety in children?

For kids, anxiety, depression, and loneliness are often the result of too much screen time. A 2018 population-based study by Twenge and Campbell showed that after an hour of screen time per day, “…increasing screen time was generally linked to progressively lower psychological well-being.”

Screen time can lead to physical, mental, and social problems for children. Too much screen time can be isolating and can lead to an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms. It can also interfere with developing important social skills. Kids need to have regular face-to-face interactions with peers and learn how to interact with others in order to develop healthy relationships and emotional regulation skills. Allowing kids too much screen time may also cause them to miss out on opportunities for physical activity, which is important for their overall health and wellbeing. 

To help decrease the risk of negative effects from too much screen time, it is important for parents to set limits on the amount of screen time their children are allowed each day. Parents should also provide a variety of other activities for kids that will help them stay socially connected, such as playing outside or attending extracurricular activities. Lastly, parents should make sure they are modeling healthy digital habits by limiting their own screen use around their children.

Does too much screen time affect children’s sleep?

In addition to causing child anxiety, too much screen time can affect how quickly your child falls asleep and how long your child sleeps. This happens for several reasons: One example is that screen time an hour before bed can stimulate your child’s mind. Studies have found that the use of digital technology before bedtime can delay sleep onset, reduce total sleep time, and lead to worse sleep quality. This is particularly true for screens emitting blue light (e.g., smartphones, tablets). Blue light suppresses melatonin production, making it harder for kids to “wind down” at night and fall asleep quickly.

Limiting screen time before bedtime can help your child get better quality sleep. Additionally, it’s best to create a consistent nighttime routine that doesn’t involve digital devices or screens—such as reading a book or taking a bath—to improve your child’s sleep habits. Additionally, setting limits on when and how long your child can use digital devices can also help them get better rest.

The Relationship Between Anxiety & Learning Difficulties (LDs)

Dealing with anxiety can be a difficult task for people with learning disabilities, as well as for the parents of children with learning disabilities. Anxiety tends to affect people with a learning disability (LD) more negatively than their peers without learning disabilities. It can make it harder for them to concentrate on tasks and can lead to a decrease in academic performance. It is important for those who are dealing with anxiety to individualize their approach when going to school or engaging in any other type of educational setting. 

As parents, you should also take steps to encourage your child to learn. If your child is experiencing anxiety or feels anxious when learning, one solution is to improve their learning environment. You can improve their learning environment by being mindful of their child’s anxiety levels and the daily stressors that increase their anxiety. Kids with learning disabilities that are caused by anxiety at some point can experience more anxiety than other children at school. Carefully analyzing the child’s behaviour can help manage the level of anxiety that the student must endure. 

While there are different types of anxiety (e.g. an anxiety disorder, anxiety provoked by a diagnosis with a learning disability, social fear and worry, low self-esteem, dyslexia, adhd, etc.), many kids can learn to manage their anxiety. With a healthy lifestyle (such as a healthy diet), observing the child’s condition, improving social interactions, and/or if the parents do not feel capable of helping them cope effectively, seeking professional help such as a therapist or neuropsychologist can be a useful tool to utilize. With a thoughtful and personalized approach, it is possible for people living with anxiety provoked learning disabilities to achieve success in school and beyond.

When Do You See Anxiety Begin to Develop in a Child With Learning Difficulties?

Children diagnosed with a learning difficulty are likely to have more anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety can begin to develop in children ages as young as five or six years old, and often become more pronounced during the school-age years. Kids might describe symptoms of anxiety such as their heart pounding, restlessness, irritability, or lack of social interaction. Your child is likely to have anxiety as they enter puberty and teenage years as they have an increased desire to fit in. 

Additionally, kids get anxious when they do not look similar to the expectations of attractiveness or intelligence outlined by their peers and develop serious anxiety with their mental and physical characteristics if left unmanaged. It’s part of child psychology to fit in and be a part of a social group. If your child is anxious as they enter their teenage years, before prescribing anti-anxiety medications, be sure to check in with their social interactions as well as how they use technology. Ensuring that your child is engaging with technology in a developmentally appropriate manner can encourage them to internalize more messages that inspire positive character development. 

One of the most common reasons that children may develop anxiety is associated with how they experience things. The world looks different to every child and if they see the world differently than their peers, it can often be a major stressor in their social life. The anxiety can be triggered by the feeling that they are not meeting expectations, or that school may be too challenging for them. In addition, children often experience difficulty in communicating their thoughts and feelings, making it difficult for them to express themselves. 

If you have a child with a learning disability and notice an increase in their anxiety levels, incorporating breathing techniques and ensuring that they have a safe environment to relax can be crucial in their ability to manage anxiety. When managing anxiety as a learning disability in children, making sure that they always have a safe place to return to, mentally and physically, can teach them how to control their anxiety. It is important for parents to recognize any signs of anxiety and acquire the necessary tools early on so that appropriate interventions can be put in place to help the child cope better.


For Parents:

  • RaisingGreatKids – CloudandTownsend
  • GraceBasedParenting – TimKimmel
  • Try and Make Me! – Levy, O’Hanlon, and Goode
  • This is a book for oppositional kids, but has good parenting ideas for all kids. SKIP the chapter on therapeutic holding – dated and not applicable. This book covers many developmental stages – for kids ages 2-18.
  • Grace for the Children – finding hope in the midst of child and adolescent mental illness – Matthew S. Stanford

For Children:

  • What to do when you worry too much – a kid’s guide to overcoming anxiety – Dawn Huebner, PhD
  • (great tips for parents too!)
  • The Unworry Book – Usborne Books (hardcover)
  • A Big Mistake(this a big favorite) – Lenore Rinder
  • My Mouth is a Volcano – Julia Cook
  • Max Lucado’s Wemmick books:
  • You Are Special – Max Lucado
  • You Are Mine – Max Lucado
  • If Only I Had a Green Nose – Max Lucado
  • How Leo Learned to be King – Marcus Pfister

For Tweens/Teens:

  • My Anxious Mind – a teen’s guide to managing anxiety and panic – Michael A. Tompkins
  • 100 Devotions for Kids Dealing with Anxiety – Justine Froelker
  • Social Anxiety Relief for Teens – a step by step CBT guide to feel confident and comfortable in any situation – Bridget Flynn Walker

Apps for Kids:

  • Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street

Apps for Teens/Adults:

  • Daylio
  • Reflect – Christian Mindfulness
  • Centering Prayer
  • YouVersion

YouTube Videos: