25 August 2019
Parents are advised to communicate more often with their children to know how they feel. Photo: AFP
Parents are advised to communicate more often with their children to know how they feel. Photo: AFP

Cases of anxiety among pre-school children on the rise

Everyday, a five-year-old girl surnamed Tang throws up just before going to school. She’s been diagnosed with the New School Year Anxiety Disorder.

Her mother has decided to quit her day job to be able to look after her daughter.

Psychiatrists have noted an increase in the number of students suffering from anxiety, which could be related to parents exerting too much pressure on their children to excel, such as by enrolling them in pre-school classes, Sky Post reported on Monday.

But Mrs. Tang denied that she is one of those “Tiger Mothers” who would push hard on their children to excel in school, saying that the source of pressure for her daughter was the fear of being looked down upon by classmates because of her learning difficulties.

Because of her daughter’s regular vomiting, Mrs. Tang had to prepare three sets of school uniforms for her daughter, who would refuse to go to school when her uniforms are dirty.

According to deputy consultant psychiatrist Li Ming-chung of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital’s Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Service, 10 percent of the cases they handle are related to anxiety disorders, with the youngest patient aged only five. The number of patients normally goes up before the beginning of the schoolyear.

Anxiety would creep in when the pressure on children mounts, especially when parents are constantly urging them to excel, or when they have set themselves too high a goal or when faced with new challenges, Li said.

Psychiatrist Chan Kwok-ling blamed playgroup classes for the higher pressure faced by children, as these classes ask students to behave properly at all times, making them associate school with discipline and pressure.

Chan called for parents to communicate with their children more often and to seek medical help if any anxiety behavior is observed, the report said.

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