Anxiety In Children
All children experience some feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings are usually temporary and the child doesn’t suffer any lasting ramifications from them. But today, one out of eight children suffers from chronic child anxiety disorder and need help to deal with those feelings.
Growing up in today’s world is full of stress. There’s so much more to learn in school, media stories about violence against children, competition to get into prestigious colleges, find a job and “fit in.” Children need to develop skills early on to help them cope with life’s pitfalls and hurdles. I do believe it harder to be a kid and a teen in the world today than it was when I was growing up, and I had a tough time 30 years ago.
When you have kids that already have another disorder like Autism or ADHD, the chances of them also having something like anxiety disorder are just that much greater. Something in their brain doesn’t process information the same way in the first place, so stress (anxiety) can often trigger worse reactions than in a typical kid.
Signs of Anxiety Disorder
Your child may have an anxiety disorder if they manifest some of the following behavior patterns:
· Headaches and other aches and pains that make them want to miss school or skip events where they might need to interact with others.
· Rapid heartbeats that cause the child to panic.
· Frequent stomachaches and vomiting.
· Worries about everything.
· Frequent temper tantrums.
There are many other ways that your child might show symptoms of stress and anxiety, but know that any pattern of behavior that becomes problematic needs to be examined and addressed. The best way to accomplish that is to have the child diagnosed by your health care provider.
Treatment for Anxiety
The good news is that child anxiety disorders can be managed. Children can learn skills to face fears and calm themselves if they panic or have feelings of anxiety. In severe cases, there is medication to help children get over stress and anxiety. Parents can be the ultimate way that children learn coping skills by being good role models in the home.
Talk to your child and reassure them that everyone suffers from anxiety and panic at certain times and that anxiety itself won’t harm him in any way, even though it feels horrible when it’s happening. Help your child learn and practice coping skills that will help next time a situation threatens to bring on a panic or anxiety attack.
Sometimes a child anxiety disorder may not manifest itself in disruptive behavior. Often a child can be obedient and quiet and the disorder may not catch the attention of teachers or even parents. Anxiety that’s never detected may cause other problems such as depression and panic attacks when the child reaches adulthood. My mother showed many of these symptoms which later manifested in violent and emotional outbursts. Things are much better controlled now with her diagnosis (in her 60s) and medications.
If you notice any change in your child’s behavior or if he or she becomes withdrawn or displays any of the other symptoms we discussed, seek a diagnosis. Chances are you can treat the child by helping them face their fears and develop self-esteem that will help them now – and throughout their lives.