Date
24 May 2017
A student e-handbook shows the number of tasks in a primary one homework. Stressful studies are causing increased anxiety among Hong Kong schoolchildren. Photos: HKEJ
A student e-handbook shows the number of tasks in a primary one homework. Stressful studies are causing increased anxiety among Hong Kong schoolchildren. Photos: HKEJ

Three in 10 schoolchildren have anxiety disorder, says study

Nearly three in 10 Hong Kong primary students have anxiety symptoms serious enough to require professional help.

Controlling parents and stressful studies are the main reasons, Sky Post reports, citing research by Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service.

The study interviewed 1,000 primary three to primary six students from January to March.

It found that 27.8 percent of the children had anxiety symptoms, down slightly from a similar study last year.

The symptoms vary, depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but generally, they include panic, sleeplessness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

The study described the situation as “worrying” and urged parents to seek professional help for their children.

A mother, surnamed Cheung, said her primary five daughter had been optimistic and cheerful in kindergarten until her schoolwork increased beginning in primary one.

Once, the girl had to finish 23 tasks in her homework in one weekend, Cheung said.

She had no time to play and had a hard time getting along with her classmates.

Cheung said her daughter had pleaded with her to send her back to kindergarten.

The girl had nightmares and struggled to control her frustrations.

Cheung said the symptoms eased after she and her daughter attended a self-help course on emotional management.

The survey also found that 13 percent of the respondents are treated as babies by their mothers.

When asked, the children often have no chance to answer because their mothers would quickly interject.

“Parents sometimes are too controlling over their children which only increases their levels of anxiety,” Dr Chan Siu-mui, an assistant professor of psychological studies in the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said.

Rita Ching, founder of Education Social Enterprise, said parents should understand their children’s personalities.

If the children are on the active and creative side, they may not be suitable for schools that are focused on homework, she said. 

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