Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is not a response due to any particular situation. GAD is more of a global and indiscriminant type of anxiety where students usually worry a lot. They tend to worry in excessive ways that are unrealistic and have a hard time controlling or limiting these worries (Pressley, & McCormick, 2007, pp. 375-376). Many times these students view life in general as capricious and that horrible things will occur if they do not perform perfectly. Furthermore, they lack security and are very concerned about their future and future events of academics, athletics, and social accomplishments being inadequate (p. 376). Typically with students who suffer from GAD have physical issues of: headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, restlessness, muscle tension and cramps, disturbed sleep, and difficulty concentrating and irritability (p. 376). Eventually the worrying and physical issues will create an atmosphere where the child’s performance academically, socially, and psychologically will be inhibited.
One of the biggest components for reducing the anxiety in students is through creating a positive classroom environment. This can be achieved through a teacher demonstrating a positive attitude during the daily interactions. Teachers must give praise and encouragement through all learning experiences, especially those which may challenge students. By providing reinforcement in circumstances where students were successful, students will begin to feel competent as if they have mastered the subject matter which can help prevent and reduce anxiety (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). In scenarios when things may have not gone according to plan for the student – it is the teachers responsibly to help students learn to accept and handle these outcomes. More specifically for students to accept responsibility and live with the mistakes, rather than letting their anxieties take control.
As teachers, we must always be learning about our students and adapting to their specific needs. Teachers should be active and effective listeners, patient observers, and provide opportunities for students to express their feelings openly (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). Student will feel this way if they have a strong relationship with their teacher. This relationship can influence the student’s perceptions of acceptance, trust, support, self-esteem, and independence (Hey, Bailey, & Stouffer, 2001). The role a teacher plays in a classroom is immeasurable in terms of the effects in which they can have on the lives their students. Teachers must treat their students as unique individuals, catering to their diverse needs. When students feel as if the classroom is a safe environment, then the student’s anxiety levels are manageable.
Hey, W.T., Bailey, D.L., & Stouffer, K. (2001). Understanding adolescent anxiety disorders: what teachers, health educators, and practitioners should know and do. The International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 4, 81-91.
Pressley, N., & McCormick, C.B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York, NY: Guildford Press.