Partnering to help kids with anxiety

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Partnering to help kids with anxiety

Voice: March 2017

When a seventh-grade student found life at a new school too overwhelming, the first thing school counselor Rosary Pennington did was to listen.

"I started by building a relationship with her so that she would be comfortable enough to at least come into school and sit in my office so that she could be in attendance and work on school work," said Pennington, a member of the Clarion Area Education Association, Clarion County.

Pennington was one of several PSEA Department of Pupil Services members to talk with Partners for Public Education about how adults can help children who may have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but children with an anxiety disorder may experience feelings of excessive fear or anxiety that are out of proportion to the situation or age inappropriate.

That's what happened to the seventh-grader in Pennington's school. The student had an intense fear of school, so Pennington worked closely with her, her parents, health providers, and other educators.

Pennington encouraged the student to attend class and even escorted her when necessary. Gradually, the student became more comfortable attending certain classes. Today, she goes to all her classes, returning to Pennington's office only during study hall to decompress.

Partners' new resource, "Supporting children with anxiety," provides helpful tips from experts like Pennington. Go to to print copies to share with parents or guardians of students who may have anxiety. You can also email to request that PSEA mail you copies of the handout.