Anxiety affects everyone; it doesn’t discriminate on location, education, nor does it affect only one, age group. At BYT, we’ve encountered anxiety in children and young people brought on by a range of factors. There’s a misconception that anxiety is solely a form of nervousness, but it presents itself in OCD, limited social skills and even panic attacks. Our team have worked with so many talented young people over the years, to help them develop techniques to manage their anxiousness.
Anxiety UK states that 1 in 6 young people will experience anxiety at some point in their youth. In fact, the same group point out that half of all mental problems begin to develop at the age of 14. So, how can drama help address this condition and alleviate the pressures that accompany it?
As mentioned, anxiety does not show in the same way with each child, but some signs will help you identify anxiety. Many parents notice a change in their child’s social and interaction habits. Time spent with friends or taking part in extracurricular activities can decrease as your child withdraws from their routine. Some young people find social situations to be overwhelming, in trying to avoid panic attacks or stressful feelings, they can dismantle their social skills.
Anxiety can also hinder schoolwork and make day-to-day tasks more exhausting. If teachers mention a drop in school performance or note tiredness, the two things could be traced to anxiousness. Despite the levels of exhaustion induced by stress, many young people struggle to rest and lose sleep to negative feelings. When extracurricular activities are eliminated, a negative and often restless pattern can form.
How to manage anxiety.
Anxiety is a temporary, not a permanent state. Help your child to understand that everyone can be affected and that it is a manageable condition. One of the most essential coping techniques is learning to control breathing. During panic attacks, the body is sending additional oxygen to the brain, preparing for a fight or flight reaction. When the extra energy is not used, young people can feel light headed and dizzy, breathing becomes the most crucial factor in regaining control.
At BYT, we introduce breathing exercises at a young age, which is of great benefit to children on and off the stage. From an early age, children are taught to bring their breathing under control ahead of performing or even playing games. Onstage, this helps vocal projection, line retention and to follow cues, but the bigger picture is what matters. By controlling their breathing, our Bright Young Things can express themselves with confidence in every scenario.
Addressing Anxiety at BYT.
From the moment our young people come through the door, we work to create a comfortable atmosphere. At the start of every class, each child is given the opportunity to speak to the group about something that is on their mind- good or bad, a story or a question. Unbelievably, some bright young things have noted that they don’t always get the opportunity to express themselves at school, which is what makes BYT so special.
We also give each child an opportunity to tackle various problems through ‘Forum Theatre’. Our facilitators act out a scenario which throws up a problem for the actor, then the Littl’Uns and Big’Uns are invited to step in and come up with a solution. In this game, we will address issues facing children, such as anxiety or challenging emotions.
Drama for personal development.
Theatre skills can do more than alleviate stress; they can arm a young person with real skills for later in life. A recent employment forecast by PWC found that 91% of CEO’s believe that employees need to improve their soft skills. At BYT, we’re developing those vital interpersonal skills that can be overlooked in traditional education. Interacting with other young people, working as part of a team and being encouraged to think creatively helps develop vital communication skills.
Most importantly, the young people at BYT enjoy their time with us, and they are developing themselves and great friendships. For more info on our courses and options we have for young people, including summer camps, click here.