Most Common Types Of Childhood Anxiety
It is normal for a child to not want to leave the security of a parent. Sometimes that can evoke extreme anxiety. If there is a crisis when you need to leave this could be the problem. Learn more >
Panic Attacks Escalated symptoms of anxiety can turn into a panic attack. They are sudden and intense with symptoms of racing heart, hyperventilation, and emotional melt-downs. This can be scary for everyone. Learn more >
Generalized Anxiety Disorder This might be the problem if your child worries all the time about different things at the same time. Typically the worries are about things that seem reasonable like performance, friendships, safety and family issues, but the worry is too intense. Learn more >
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-This one is the most difficult to figure out and is often misdiagnosed. It can present itself in several variations. It is characterized by preoccupation with a fear and ritualized attempts to neutralize the danger. Learn more >
Agitation Is A Symptom Of Anxiety In Children
Anger is one of the easiest emotions to show, and it seems to be the cure-all for whatever someone is feeling. How many times have you been angry in the past week? If someone rubs you the wrong way, anger easily comes to the surface as its a powerful emotion.
Your child may be showing signs of agitation and aggression that werent a regular part of their personality. These signs can be concerning as they can lead them to trouble at school and at home. Agitation is a common sign of anxiety in children.
Anxiety In Children: Signs Symptoms And Treatment
Anxiety is a normal response to stress that both children and adults can experience. All children will experience times when they are worried or afraid. However, some children may experience more intense episodes of anxiety that can be overwhelming for them. In these cases, the child may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Children with anxiety disorders may have anxiety that interferes with their home life, social interactions, or schoolwork. Around 7.1%1 of children between the ages of three and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety.
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Be Supportive But Not Controlling
The key is to help your child manage their anxiety but not be too overprotective in an attempt to eliminate it. By listening attentively and expressing empathy, youre already providing a great deal of support.
You can also talk through ways of handling different situations. If your child has , for example, and was at a friends house and feeling worried about getting back home, brainstorm appropriate responses. Your child could ask the friends mom what time youll be picking them up, for example, or they could ask the mom to call you to find out what time youll be there. Having strategies like these in place can help reassure your child and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Pulling Away From Their Bestie
If your child prefers to be by themselves when they used to be a social butterfly this could point to depression. But, this could also be a sign of anxiety in children. Colangelo advises that parents explore ways to engage their children one-on-one with other children or siblings, such as playgroups, team sports, and other social activities they might be comfortable with. Learn how to recognize the general symptoms and signs of depression.
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Suddenly Wanting To Sleep In Your Bed
Waking often through the night, having trouble falling asleep, or suddenly asking to sleep in your bed every night could all be signs of an anxious child. Rebecca R. Berry, PhD, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Child Study Center of Hassenfeld Childrens Hospital at NYU Langone, explains that major and sudden shifts in a childs nighttime ritual might be a way for a child to cope with anxious feelings. Berry says sticking to a routine in which youre involved by reading books, helping a young child with a bath, or listening to some calming music together, can help ease anxieties. Here are some relaxing bedtime techniques to help your child get in the nighttime zone.
What Are The Signs Of Anxiety In Children
Anxiety can make a child feel scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed.
Some of the signs to look out for in your child are:
- finding it hard to concentrate
- not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
- not eating properly
- quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
- constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
- always crying
- being clingy all the time
- complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
Your child may not be old enough to recognise why they’re feeling this way.
The reason for the anxiety will differ depending on the age of the child. Separation anxiety is common in younger children, whereas older children and teenagers tend to worry more about school performance, relationships or health.
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Ten Common Signs Of Anxiety In Children
If you realize one thing isnt proper together with your youngster, its possible youll be fast to imagine theyre being bullied, have an underlying medical challenge, or are going by way of puberty-related issues. However, anxiousness in youngsters typically comes out in mysterious methods. Here are the ten commonest indicators of an underlying anxiousness dysfunction in children.
Why Do Children Get Anxiety
All children will experience periods of worry or fear from time to time, but not all will develop an anxiety disorder. There are a variety of factors at play for why some children develop anxiety while others do not.
Some children are born with a genetic predisposition toward anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder , for example, is believed to have a genetic link. Others may have a reduced ability to cope with stress, which can lead to an anxiety disorder. Some children may also pick up anxious thoughts and behaviors from the people around them.
Children who experience trauma may also be at a higher risk for anxiety disorders. Events like the death of a close family member or friend, having to frequently move house, growing up in poverty, experiencing abuse or neglect, or becoming seriously ill or injured can all increase anxiety.
Experiencing other mental health issues can also increase the risk of anxiety, including autistic spectrum disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder . Changes in the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain can also cause feelings of anxiety.
Constant Need For Reassurance
Children are on their way to becoming independent adults and it’s normal for them to feel insecure. But if your child is always looking for reassurance, even if they make good grades and do well in extracurricular activities, you may be dealing with something more serious.
What does reassurance look like? Your child may frequently ask if they’re doing a good job or if they’re performing a certain activity correctly.
The constant need for reassurance may come up in other ways. For example, if your child is visiting a certain family member, they may frequently ask if things will be okay. This may be a sign that your child experiences anxiety around certain people.
Tip : Be A Positive Role Model For Your Child
Your child looks up to you and needs your guidance in showing them how to manage stress and anxiety. The way you deal with frustration and express anger is a prime example. Try to remain calm and patient as possible when dealing with problems and challenging situations. The way you speak and what you speak about can also have a huge influence on even a difficult teenagers values and behavior.
Parents who take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can encourage their children to do the same. If you practice yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques, your children are likely to pay more attention to their own well-being. Avoid making negative comments about your own body, though, since this can lead to poor self-image and body shaming.
Modeling a healthy approach to life can also teach your children valuable lessons. We all make mistakes and children should realize that although parents have flaws, they can still successfully overcome adversity. This can help remove unnecessary pressures that may contribute to your childs anxiety.
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Why Is My Child Anxious
Some children are more likely to have worries and anxiety than others.
Children often find change difficult and may become anxious following a house move or when starting a new school.
Children who have had a distressing or traumatic experience, such as a car accident or house fire, may suffer from anxiety afterwards.
Family arguments and conflict can also make children feel insecure and anxious.
Teenagers are more likely to suffer with social anxiety than other age groups, avoiding social gatherings or making excuses to get out of them.
Find out more about social anxiety.
Show Concern And Understanding
Expressing encouragement and compassion, combined with a collaborative approach to find workable solutions, can be a powerful tool. Research indicates that maternal empathy has a significant impact on alleviating distress in children.
Let your child know that anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of and that youre there to help them understand what makes them anxious and find ways to manage it. This teamwork approach is a shared bond between you and your child, while also fostering your childs ability to tolerate their own anxiety.
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Common Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder For Children At School
According to Child Mind Institute, your childs anxiety may manifest at school in several ways. Keep an eye out for these signs:
- Refusing to go to school or having a hard time at school drop-offs
- Difficulty participating in class and interacting with peers
- Excessive worry about everyday things
- Trouble answering questions when called on by the teacher
- Disruptive behavior
- Frequent trips to the nurse
- Avoiding socializing or group work
- Not turning in homework
If you notice several of the above, ask your childs doctor to perform an in-depth screening of his or her mental and physical health to rule out a mood disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , or a specific phobia, all of which can look like GAD. Certain physical conditions, like thyroid disorders or heart conditions, can also mimic anxiety-like symptoms. Your doctor can rule out most of these with simple blood and urine tests though some more complicated conditions may require x-rays or physical stress tests.
How Common Is Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common problems experienced by children and young people. Both boys and girls are affected. Sometimes the anxiety can be greater than that of their peers and interfere with the young person’s life – how they manage on a day-to-day basis. This may be a sign that an ‘anxiety disorder’ is developing and treatment for this may be necessary.
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When Should We Get Help
If your child’s anxiety is severe, persists, and interferes with their everyday life, it’s a good idea to get some help.
A visit to a GP is a good place to start. If your child’s anxiety is affecting their school life, it’s a good idea to talk to their school as well.
Parents and carers can get help and advice about children’s mental health from Young Minds’ free parent helpline on , from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm.
Find out more about treatments on our page about anxiety disorders in children.
Problem Solve Strategies To Reduce The Physiological Response
Your role as a parent is to help your child troubleshoot the most effective ways to switch off / silence the alarm. Understanding your childs unique physiological response to stress is the best place to start. If they tend to start breathing very quickly, then focus on ways to slow their breathing down, if they feel sick then you are best helping them find a happy place to take themselves off to, which doesnt have to be a physical place . I have found encouraging children to count their in and out breath in rounds of ten works far more effective than simply asking them to take a few deep breaths. Ask your child to count in their heads, an in-breath is one, an out-breath is two, next in-breath is three, next out-breath is four, and so on until they get to 10, then they can start again from one, until they feel an easing in their stress.
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Washing Hands More Often
Several subtle physical rituals can go hand-in-hand with anxiety in children. When children dont know how to deal with or are too embarrassed to discuss it with adults, the anxiety can come in many forms, says Len Saunders, New Jersey-based childrens health, fitness, and wellness advocate and author. Sometimes this can manifest itself in physical rituals, he says. Some common, but subtle, signs include excessive hand washing, nail-biting, scratching the scalp, chanting, shaky hands, and sweating. Some kids may even start becoming obsessive organizers. Pinpointing the cause of a childs anxiety symptoms is crucial. However, its also important to give your child the best coping skills to prevent anxiety. Meditation, positive thinking patterns, and journaling can be excellent coping mechanisms for kids. Find out why one school replaced detention with meditation.
What Causes Childhood Anxiety
Your childs anxiety is “just the luck of the genetic draw,” explains psychologist Steven Kurtz, Ph.D., president of Kurtz Psychology Consulting in New York City, who specializes in childhood anxiety. “There’s a sort of smoke detector in your head that’s supposed to go off when the brain perceives danger, and it triggers the fight-or-flight response,” says Dr. Kurtz. “In anxious kids, their smoke detector is set to a much more sensitive level, and they also have a much more dramatic reaction.” In fact, research has shown that differences in stress response can be detected in babies as young as 6 weeks old, proving that nature is at least as important as nurture when it comes to anxiety.
There’s a family connection too: Kids with an anxious parent are up to seven times more likely to have an anxiety disorder compared with kids whose parents are not anxious. The link is both biological and behavioral, explains Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut. “There is an inherited risk, but when parents are overprotective or model their own fears, they increase their child’s risk of anxiety.”
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