Is My Child Suffering from Anxiety?
While anxiety is a normal emotion to experience when it comes and goes, chronic anxiety can interfere with one’s quality of life. And more often than not, symptoms of anxiety surface early in childhood. Therefore, parents need to know what to look for early on in their kids before more serious physical and mental health issues arise later in life.
You may be wondering, “Does my child struggle with anxiety?”, “What does anxiety look like?” or “Is my child’s anxiety chronic and needing to be addressed?”
As a parent, you may wrestle with these questions and desire to gain a better understanding. I want you to know, you are not alone and there are answers to your questions!
According to the UCLA Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES) Center, there are 3 different sign types of anxiety. Below, I address the signs and symptoms that indicate a child may need additional help managing his or her anxiety.
- Physical Signs:
- Often complains of headaches and stomachaches without medical reasoning
- Has trouble falling or staying asleep
- Is restless, distracted, fidgety and/or hyperactive
- Tense muscles
- Shaking hands or legs and/or sweating in intimidating situations
- Refuses to eat snacks or lunch at school
- Struggles to use the bathroom except at home
- Emotional Signs:
- Cries often
- Considered very sensitive
- Becomes grouchy or angry without any clear reason
- Afraid of making minor mistakes
- Panic attacks and/or fear of having panic attacks
- Worrying far in the future (worrying about middle school in elementary school)
- Worried or fearful about drop offs; overly clinging to caregivers
- Frequent nightmares
- Behavioral Signs:
- Uses “What If” language often (“What if something bad happens, what if I fail the test”)
- Avoids joining in during class or social activities
- Remains silent or distracted when asked to work with others
- Refuses to go to school
- Avoids social situations, such as birthday parties or extracurricular activities
- Seeks approval from parents, caregivers, teachers and friends on a regular basis
- Says, “I can’t do it!” without a real reason
- Has meltdowns or tantrums
- Addictive behavior
If your child exhibits some of these signs/symptoms, do not wait to address the issues of anxiety! And don’t sit back and simply “wonder” if your child is struggling. It’s very simple to find out for sure without any cost (see below note on initial pro bono consultation). The longer anxiety is ignored, the more it grows and can affect all areas of life. With support and helpful tools, your child can fight the anxiety bully and build resilience for his or her future.