Anxiety in children is always a problem parents have to investigate and deal with. This article presents and explains the most common signs you have to look for in your child.
Most people experience anxiety quite often, at different levels or for different reasons. It can be anxiety caused by the anticipation of a stressful moment, or anxiety caused by lack of control, anxiety caused by scenarios we play in our heads, anxiety caused by a threatening situation and so on. We have heard this before: a small amount of anxiety is good for us, because it keeps us vigilant, focused, efficient. WE could say it is the same with children. Situations that cause them anxiety, pushes them to unexplored intellectual territory, where they find new solutions, known as coping mechanisms. However, NOT any kind and any level of anxiety is healthy or motivating.
Here are the signs telling you that your child is dealing with more anxiety than he is able to control:
He is irritated and cries a lot. If he has little patience to deal with unpleasant situations, he bursts into tears and refuses to deal with it, and does this frequently, his lack of ability to calmly try and overcome a problem at one point might mean that some other stress is constantly draining him from a normal, healthy emotional response.
He is tired. But he’s tired more than the other kids or more than he used to be. Anxiety is energy draining, as the child’s vigilance requires his brain and body to work at a higher capacity. During an anxious state, the brain collects an overwhelming data from the world outside, in an effort to connect the right info so that it would find a solution and lower the state of alert. This drains out energy and is usually a trigger for depression, which is, in very few words, numbness created by overusage.
He complains about headaches. Or stomach aches. There are the most common physical symptoms that children with anxiety accuse. A visit to the doctor will show if these aches are cause by a physical factor, or not. In case not, you are dealing with an anxious child.
Anger and hostility. A child that is anxious doesn’t necessarily have to shake and look scared. Anxiety triggers what most of us know as a “fight or flight” response. If the flight response translates into cry and isolation, the fight response is anger and hostility. A child that is constantly in defensive, even when no threat is present, is a child trying to cope with anxiety the “heroic” way.
Low self-esteem. Kids with abnormal anxiety levels feel like they are not important to their parents, their family, their teachers or their friends.
Other signs you should look for are: a change in eating habits; a change in sleep pattern; bed wetting, poor performance in school, engaging in dangerous behaviors and thoughts of atrocious violence.
In a recent article, we have presented a study showing a strong link between parental absence and the use of nicotine and alcohol in teenagers, drawing the attention on how to prevent one of the major triggers in these behavior: anxiety in children.