Jan 13, 2020 02:44 PM EST
How to Know If a Child Suffering from Anxiety?
How to Know If a Child Suffering from Anxiety?
As children grow, they go through many transitions in life. Each child's experiences and reactions to each will be different. These transitions could be anything such as starting a new class, moving house, losing a family member, or a change in teacher.
However, sometimes life isn't kind enough to give us a warning, or your child may find a particular change extra challenging to cope with.
It can be difficult for children to understand what is happening when things around them change. This uncertainty and confusion can trigger anxiety. When not dealt with, anxiety could stay with them in some degree into adulthood. It's crucial for you to monitor your children for changes in behavior, especially if they are non-verbal, for any signs of anxiety, stress, or depression.
One of the most obvious signs that something is bothering your child is when their sleep pattern becomes disrupted.
Anxiety-related sleep issues can present as insomnia, refusal to go to bed, bedwetting, nightmares, and restlessness. In young children, these sleep issues may cause a milestone set back.
This behavior can easily lead to further separation anxiety problems if not dealt with correctly and carefully. Go back to basics and recreate a relaxing bedtime routine that is consistent and focused on communicating, time together, and healthy bedroom space.
Change in Eating Habits
As well as sleep food is another aspect of a child's life that they have some control over. An anxious child will often refuse food that they usually like. This is either because they feel nauseous from their anxiety or because they are subconsciously trying to bring control into their lives when they feel like they don't have any.
Picky eating can become a serious problem if left undealt with. Food is our fuel, and children need lots to be able to play, learn, and grow!
Often parents will opt for the tough love method of 'they will eat when they are hungry'. However, this can set negative precedence around mealtimes and, in the long run, an unhealthy relationship with food.
A great way to overcome anxiety behaviors with food is by getting your child involved in its preparation. Make it fun and give them small choices without giving in to feeding them whatever they like. For example, when making a salad, allow them to choose how things are sliced or which ingredient out of a choice of two to include. Young children can also get involved by filling and pouring or counting ingredients.
Another critical point to remember is not to make a fuss! When around the table, create conversation or listen to music, and don't watch over your child or instruct them to eat.
A sign of anxiety in primary aged children and teens is over-worrying, otherwise known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This can be focused on anything the child deems important and has negative thoughts about. Fear-based anxieties are often brought on by a single distressing and often uncontrollable event, like getting lost in the supermarket.
Over-worrying is an internal symptom that prompts negative thoughts. This type of anxiety is the hardest to spot as a parent. Therefore, it's highly important to talk often with your children about their feelings and look out for more subtle signs like refusal to cooperate, clammy hands, shyness, and shortness of breath.
These anxiety fears are the ones that we often take with us into adulthood. They can lead to more serious mental health issues such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Children need to be supported in finding ways to desensitize their anxieties, while also building coping strategies that they can use for the rest of their lives. For example, if your child has anxiety in large crowds, using their five senses to calm themselves down works great to refocus them. In the long run, they will be able to notice the signs of their anxiety and be confident it won't take over.
If You're Worried About Your Child, What Should You Do?
First of all, don't panic, fuss, or mollycoddle, as this will only make your child feel like there's something to be anxious about. There are plenty of support groups and professional opinions online to give you some reassurance and guidance.
The professionals at https://www.renewedfreedomcenter.com/can-depression-and-anxiety-cause-ocd-like-symptoms/ suggest taking an online depression and anxiety test to evaluate symptoms. From this test, parents can then create a personalized treatment plan appropriate for their child.
Furthermore, seek advice from your physician. Medication may not be your first option, but it is an option that shouldn't be written off if it will help your child overcome their anxieties.
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