If you’ve got an anxious child, you’ve come to the right place.
Most of us associate anxiety with adulthood; something that builds over time as a result of things that happen in childhood. However, it’s estimated that up to 1 in 20 American kids suffers from a form of depression or anxiety.
Going through childhood presents its own set of problems, but if your parental advice isn’t getting through to your kids, they might have diagnosable anxiety.
It can be difficult to watch your child deal with anxiety disorder, as hard as it is to watch your child struggle with anything. The immediate desire is to try and make it go away. But anxiety doesn’t work like that. It won’t simply go away.
In this article, we’ll look at some signs of anxiety in children and how to support them in dealing with their anxiety. It won’t be easy, but having the help of their parents will go a long way to coping with this problem.
Let’s dig in.
Signs of an Anxious Child
There are many signs that could mean that your child has anxiety. Anxiety is the most suffered from illness in North America and too many people, children included, go undiagnosed.
How to Tell if Your Child Is Anxious
It can be hard to discern whether your child is anxious based on the symptoms, but typical ones include agitation, restlessness, poor focus, bad tantrums, crying, chronic headaches or stomach pains, and refusing to go to school.
They’re difficult to discern because every child acts like this at certain points. How do you know if it’s a mood or something more serious? The best way to figure this out is by making note of the frequency of these events. If your child is feigning headaches to get out of school once a week, there’s something going on.
These behaviors can be frustrating from the parent’s point of view, but keep in mind that they’re happening for a reason. If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior, then it might be time to research anxiety.
Types of Anxiety in Children
There are dozens of different types of anxiety. The ones most commonly experienced by children are generally limited to about five or six.
Social anxiety often occurs in children and manifests in an intense fear of attending class or hanging out with school mates. You’ll notice tantrums, clinginess, and refusal to speak or go out.
Separation anxiety is a more serious issue when it occurs in older children. They might feel nausea or headaches when you drop them off at school and fear you dying when you’re separated.
Selective mutism occurs when a normally talkative child refuses to speak in certain social situations. Avoiding eye contact and refusing to speak in class are typical of this condition.
Finally, general anxiety disorder is diagnosed in children that worry excessively about grades, school activities, relationships with friends and family, or other activities. It can result in sleep disturbances, fatigue, irritability, and muscle tension.
If your child is noticeably displaying symptoms of any of these types of anxiety, you may want to discuss further action with a professional. However, there are things that you can do at home to help alleviate these feelings.
How to Support an Anxious Child
While professional support is sometimes required to deal with depression and anxiety in children, there are ways to go about handling outbursts that are beneficial and other things you should avoid doing, so as not to make it worse.
Manage, Don’t Eliminate
Your goal, as the parent, shouldn’t be to eliminate your child’s anxiety. It’s not something you can snap your fingers at and make go away. Assume that all you can do is help to manage the illness by managing individual situations.
Sit down with them and talk about what they’re feeling inside. Tell them that it’s completely normal to feel that way and stress that they can talk to you when they’re experiencing an anxiety attack.
Don’t try to stop anxiety from happening, try to mitigate the damage it does to your child’s day when it inevitably does happen.
Often, during the throes of a severe anxiety or panic attack, a child will genuinely believe that they’re dying. This is probably the result of their body tensing up and rising heart rates. To deal with this, you should remain calm and practice relaxation techniques.
Teach them deep breathing exercises and how to de-tense their muscles. Often, kids will tense up during anxiety attacks and panic to the point of not breathing. If you’re with them then you can help them through it, but teaching them how to deal with it when you’re not around will be more beneficial to them.
Don’t Avoid Things
With anxieties related to social situations, a child will try to make an excuse why they can’t do something or go somewhere. When possible, hold your ground on these things.
It can be hard and make you feel as though you’re making things worse, but if you let the child have their way every time, then you actually are making the condition worse. Behaviors will repeat themselves if you allow them.
Writing Feelings Out
A great coping mechanism for anyone dealing with anxiety, but especially a child, is writing out the anxious feelings that they’re having. As a child, it can be hard to verbally communicate what you’re feeling, so writing down thoughts in a journal or on a scrap piece of paper can be helpful.
Sit with your child at night and have them write down the anxious worries that they had throughout the day, as a kind of exercise. When they’re done, have them rip up the paper and toss it in the bin to symbolically let go of their anxiety.
These are effective methods that you can enact at home to try to help your child. If you don’t notice a positive change, then you may need to talk to a psychologist. Visit this page to learn more about effective therapy for anxiety in children.
Fight Anxiety Over Time
Of course, you want your child to live a happy life right now. But, anxiety is something that can crop up and become worse over time.
The sooner your anxious child can learn how to cope with it, the better they’ll become at combatting attacks on a situational basis. What they need from you is support. Take these tips with you and do some research of your own to begin to help your child deal with their anxiety.
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