Most people wouldn’t associate children with having anxiety but the truth is that – just like adults – many children struggle with the symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety is something inherent in all humans and when it’s working effectively, it can protect us from danger by making us want to leave the situation or take action to prevent us from being harmed.
There are instances, however, where children and adults struggle to moderate their anxiety levels and this means that they end up struggling with anxiety on a regular basis.
In these instances, a normal human process has become a problem that impacts on the person’s quality of life and this is when they need to seek out support. Just like adults, children need support in managing this too, but before you can help a child, you need to be able to recognize the signs of childhood anxiety.
How Common Is Childhood Anxiety In The United States?
According to the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, childhood anxiety disorders affect around 2 million children and adolescents.
This doesn’t take into account the number of children who struggle with anxiety that falls below the clinical range (the range at which it can be diagnosed as an illness). A child doesn’t need to have a diagnosed form of anxiety for it to have an impact on their lives and by recognizing the signs, a parent or carer can support them in managing these feelings.
What Are The Symptoms Of Childhood Anxiety?
One of the problems with being able to recognize anxiety is that it presents in so many different forms. For one child, it might be presented as temper tantrums and even aggressive behavior. For other children, it might be displayed as difficulty sleeping, or even headaches and stomach aches with no identifiable medical cause.
It might be difficult for parents to recognize signs of anxiety in children, but keep in mind that it’s likely even more difficult for children to recognize that they are worried or anxious.
How Do I Recognize Signs Of Psychosomatic Symptoms Of Anxiety?
When it comes to anxiety, the symptoms can present in a variety of ways – some of which are psychosomatic complaints, which are basically symptoms of the body that can’t be explained through medical conditions and so their root has been identified as stemming from a psychological issue.
This might include frequent stomach aches, headaches or chest pain. In every instance, a child should be taken to the doctor to rule out a medical issue, after which the possibility of anxiety can then be explored. This is meant to rule out the potential that there is a medical issue causing the child pain.
What Is A Panic Attack?
Children can experience panic attacks just like adults do, and the symptoms can be very frightening. The child might experience difficulty breathing, chest pain or stomach pain, and the psychological fear that accompanies this is severe. Keep in mind that not all children who struggle with anxiety will suffer from panic attacks.
Why Does My Child Have Frequent Meltdowns?
Emotions can be really difficult to manage and as adults, we’ve spent our lives learning how to do this. Children experience strong emotions, just as adults do, but the difference is that they haven’t yet learned how to manage them – this is something that their parents need to teach them.
A child who has frequent meltdowns is often simply trying to tell you that they can’t manage a strong emotion and that they need some help to do this.
Why Is My Child Tired All The Time?
Once again, fatigue could be a sign of a medical issue, but if this has been ruled out, there is the potential that the child is struggling with anxiety. A lot of energy goes into trying to manage anxiety on a regular basis, so it’s natural that it would tire them out after a while.
Can Childhood Anxiety Impact My Child’s Performance At School?
Yes, anxiety can have a negative impact on a child’s school performance, not only on an academic level, but in all aspects of their experience. Firstly, anxiety can often make it difficult for children to focus on their work, which impacts their grades.
What is more, it can make children lash out at others, causing them to be ostracized by peers. Anxious children can be too nervous to engage with others and make lasting friendships, and this causes feelings of isolation and loneliness.
What Causes Anxiety In Children?
Professionals have been debating the causes of anxiety for decades, but it’s clear that there is no one, single cause but a number of contributing factors that come together to create this issue.
In some instances, anxiety can have a genetic cause, making some children more predisposed to being anxious than others. Additional factors like bullying, school stressors, loss, or different transitions (such as moving school or moving home) can then trigger feelings of ongoing anxiety.
How Can I Help My Child With Their Anxiety?
If your child is struggling with anxiety, there are a variety of ways you can help, including teaching them deep breathing techniques, using a worry box for the child to pack away their worries, talking about their worries and ensuring the child has healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits.
If you’re concerned about your child, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor so that they can recommend other ways for you to help your child manage childhood anxiety.