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When we are trying to determine our children’s problematic anxious behaviors, there are a few “red flags” that we can look for as warning signs. These signs are signals for us to watch for in order to beware if more support needs to be provided to of children and their worries.
The first “red flag” is that your child’s worries are out of proportion to the current event. For example, your child is worried that their school project is not as good as their peers and they refuse to present it in class or go to school. A second “red flag” is your child may need constant reassurance from you, a loved one, or a teacher for their actions to soothe their thoughts. They are seeking constant comfort that can never be enough to make the anxious thoughts go away. The third “red flag” is physical symptoms appear regularly that go beyond tummy and headaches. Our bodies’ give is warning signs that tell us when we are not feeling well that can be related to our thoughts and anxieties. We can feel dizzy, headaches, constant stomachaches, heart racing, etc. If these symptoms are everyday and persistent, it is a “red flag”. The fourth “red flag” are that worries begin far in advance of the event. For example, your child is first worried about an upcoming play they are performing in, however the play is in one month and your child is already not sleeping and constantly thinking about the performance and worried about the crowds reactions.
The fifth “red flag” is that your child begins to have sleep difficulties. This can include having trouble falling asleep, having nightmares, and waking up throughout the night. When we lose sleep, it can have a snowball effect of feeling worse throughout the day. The sixth “red flag” is that your child may refuse or becomes more overwhelmed when help is provided. For example, if your child is having anxious thoughts and your try to intervene, nothing you say seems to help but actually seems to make the situation worse. The seventh “red flag” is that your child continually avoids stressful situations. Your child will avoid going to school or have increase symptoms in the morning or will avoid certain friends groups due. The eighth “red flag” can appear in signs of perfectionism and your child will struggle when things do not go just “right”. When we are constantly thinking about one subject, we create the perfect image of how the situation could unfold to help calm our nerves. If the situation goes differently, it can be hard to adjust. The last “red flag” is that the symptoms will spread to other areas of your life and will increase in intensity. For example, the anxiety began as a worry that you might not do well on a test, then it grows into if I fail then my teacher will not like me or my friends will not talk to me, then I may fail this grade. It will also spread from not getting one night of sleep before the test to having a stomachache before school everyday. These “red flags” are indicators that anxiety maybe spreading and more support needs to be added to combat the growing worries.