Anxiety can be a problem, no matter how old you are. Unfortunately, anxiety symptoms can manifest in children as easily as in adults. When your child has anxiety or the troubling symptoms that come with it, you want to do everything you can to help them. To know when they’re experiencing anxiety, you need to know what to look for. If these symptoms seem severe or persist over time, you may need to consider the option that your child has an anxiety disorder and may require additional help beyond what you can provide.
The physical symptoms of anxiety might be the easiest to notice over time. Your child might have frequent panic or anxiety attacks related to anxious thoughts or future events. They could also frequently comment that their stomach hurts, which might have been caused by excess stress.
Try to pinpoint what their anxiety triggers are, and it might be easier for them to manage at least the physical symptoms of their anxiety. Work through it with them and help them devise a plan to mitigate the feelings of anxiety in the event of a panic or anxiety attack.
Lack of Concentration
Lack of concentration is frequently attributed to depression, but it’s also a significant symptom of an anxiety disorder, and it could manifest in your child. When someone is unable to focus on things, they might miss out on important events in the present or find it impossible to enjoy the things that they used to love. Difficulty concentrating can also lead to trouble in school, which might be difficult to fix.
Thoughts of Dread
Anyone with anxiety can attest that one of the worst parts of it is the racing thoughts that can make you feel horrible and hopeless. Racing thoughts, where your child thinks everything will go wrong and can’t control their line of thinking, are probably due to anxiety, not because those thoughts reflect who they are. Thoughts of dread can make you feel like you have nothing to look forward to, and they can also prevent you from attending events or doing things that you love.
Changes in Patterns
You should know your child’s patterns well. If they seem to have difficulty sleeping, their anxiety may be keeping them up at night. Encourage them to wake you up and talk to you when they have trouble sleeping, so they don’t have to sit alone with their anxiety. They might also have issues eating. The stress of anxiety might cause your child to eat far less or more than they usually do. When you notice big changes to their usual patterns, you could consider anxiety as a cause.
Frequent Mood Swings
Your child might start experiencing mood swings seemingly out of nowhere. They might not tell you everything going on in their head, but if you sit them down and try to get them to open up, they may tell you more about what they’re feeling. That way, you won’t be caught off-guard if they have a sudden bout of irritability — and you’ll know that there’s a reason behind it, not just moodiness.
You may see your child feeling or acting tense and fidgety, and they may snap at you out of nowhere. They may not have the best coping mechanisms for their anxiety and could be doing all they can to manage it in their head. Offer them help, and they may learn to deal with outside stimuli when anxious.
You can be a bigger help than you think to a child with anxiety. Usually, people with anxiety need reassurance, which will help them understand that their thoughts don’t define them and aren’t necessarily true. You can help them discover strategies and build routines that allow them to independently work through their anxiety from anywhere.
If your child can sit still long enough, meditation is a winning way to battle the racing thoughts and give them a sense of calmness that can carry them through the day. They just need to sit in a quiet place and challenge themselves to stay in the present. All thoughts are supposed to roll off them during this time.
When meditation isn’t an option, your child can pull out one of their positive affirmations to help them know that they can conquer anything. Affirmations can help you remain in the present and can shift your focus to something positiverather than negative. They work almost as a “fake it until you make it” technique and can help your child unlock their potential by realizing that they are more powerful than their anxiety.
Disruptive and destructive behaviors are some of the ways children act out, which show they need help with their anxiety from an outside source. When your child’s anxiety seems so severe that nothing you suggest can help, consider taking them to a professional. A therapist or counselor can help them brainstorm strategies that can work for their anxiety whenever they feel it.
Around 70% of teenagers believe that anxiety and depression are serious problems in people their age. If your child doesn’t talk to you about their mental health, encourage them to open up to you. Show them they can trust you and that you’re invested in their well-being. Over time, your child may start coming to you with more worries. The most important thing you can do is reassure your child that they’re never alone and that you’ll love them no matter what.