Most children have anxious moments as they begin to go to school or relocate to a new place. It is quite natural to experience such a kind of uneasiness. But sometimes kids may become extremely worried as they find themselves unable to cope with new changes. They feel restless and their nervousness is reflected in their thoughts and behaviour every day. Also, their discomfort is seen in the daily routine at home or school or sometimes even in social relationships. At such times your child could be facing anxiety disorders.
You may notice unusual changes in your child’s behaviour, sleeping patterns, eating habits, or attitude. Your child could be living through extreme fear and worry. That is the time when you may have to seek professional help to deal with your child’s anxiety issues. It could help your child a lot in dealing with apprehensions and fretfulness.
The article below touches upon the symptoms of anxiety disorders in children that can help parents to recognise:
Symptoms of Anxiety in Children
Many parents may ignore the signs of anxiety in their kids. But it could prove to be detrimental as it may leave your child with decreasing performance in school, and poor social skills. So, it is vital that parents recognise the anxiety patterns in their kids and get them treated accordingly.There are many types of anxiety disorders, but some of the most common anxiety illnesses in children are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Your child could be experiencing excessive anxiety or worry over trivial matters like homework, tests or making mistakes. They could also worry about little things that parents are unaware about like playing with friends, riding the school bus, recess, lunchtime, or birthday parties. These are symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Kids having the disorder almost always have a worry in their mind. They may worry about school performance, friendships, family relationships, or other activities or concerns. They may also worry more about dear ones, safety, sickness, or getting hurt. At times, kids may be having apprehensions about conflicts, climate or the future.
Some kids keep their worries to themselves. Some kids express their worries with a parent or a teacher and may ask frequently whether something they worry about will happen. Parents may try to answer their concerns with their soothing words, but it is difficult for them to feel normal.
With the generalized anxiety disorder, your kid could be finding it tough to concentrate in school or to relax, have fun, eat well or having a good sleep at night. Worrying constantly makes your child feel sick, afraid, tired or even missing out many days in school. Having the illness could also result in irritability or muscle tension.
Your kid may have an extreme phobia about a specific object or situation. At such times, kids often cry, freeze up, or cling to an adult. Children often can have phobias about animals, spiders, storms, needles, loud sounds, people in costumes or the enclosed spaces.
They may try to avoid the thing they fear and feel frightened when they are near it, for instance like getting afraid of the dark, big animals or shrill noises of thunder or firecrackers. In such situations, it is hard to comfort the kids.
Having a specific phobia may surround kids with extreme fear of things or situations. They may side-step visiting places where they see specific things they fear. For instance, if a kid has an extreme fear for dogs, he may avoid going to a friend’s house or to a park as dogs may be present there.
Your kid could be worrying excessively and may experience recurring panic attacks. They may have symptoms like trembling, faster heart rate, shortness of breath or feeling shaky or nervous.
Your child could probably be experiencing panic disorder, an anxiety illness that leads to sudden panic attacks. At that time, your kid could also feel chest pain, sense of choking, sickness, dizziness, feeling chill or heat, and apprehension of going crazy or fear of dying.
Panic attacks are more commonly seen in teens than kids and can occur anytime.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Sometimes kids have excessive fear or anxiety and may refuse to stay away from a parent. Such symptoms are signs of separation anxiety disorder.
It is normal for kids to suffer from separation anxiety between 1-3 years old. But once they get older, they should get accustomed to being with a grandparent, babysitter, or teacher and familiarize themselves at daycare or school.
However, with the disorder the kids refuse to outgrow, and they get tensed about being detached from their parents.
They may avoid going to school, frequently cry and hang on to a parent and refuse to do any other activities. They may avoid sleeping alone at home or going to a room without their parent.
Kids having the disorder may often fear about parents dying or having bad dreams about separation. They may complain of symptoms like headaches or nausea.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Sometimes kids are too scared to express their views and think they may say or do something embarrassing. Your kid may be having a social phobia.
With the illness, your child may be having fear to participate in class or interacting with their peers. They may avoid lifting their hand in class. They may freeze or get freaked out if they are unable to answer.
Kids with the disorder avoid being the centre of attention. They always fear that they may fail and get frightened to join in group activities with their classmates.
They may avoid social situations that aggravate their fear and exhibit their phobias by throwing tantrums, wailing, clinging to adults, freezing up, or refusing to speak.
Kids having social anxiety may try to evade school or friends. They may complain of tiredness and other body aches or feel their heart pounding or gasping for breath. They may feel insecure or feel their face getting warm.
It is an extreme form of social phobia where kids refuse to speak in certain social situations. They may refuse to speak at school, small gatherings, friends or in other places where the fear exists. However, they do converse freely at home or with their near ones or wherever they feel comfortable.
Children around the age of 5 are most commonly diagnosed with this disorder. Selective mutism is more common in girls and starts in early childhood. It can be managed through proper support therapy. If left untreated it can affect the child’s development and behaviour. If diagnosed early, a child can overcome this condition with resources at school and at home. As they grow older, it can take longer to overcome the fear.
The above tips can help parents to recognise the signs of anxiety disorder in their kids. You can take your child to a trained therapist and help your child to cope with their fears.
Try to build a caring relationship with your child. Help your child express his feelings. Make your kid know that he is going to be okay and can master scary situations. As a parent you can help your child learn to manage anxiety effectively so that he can deal with life’s challenges as he grows into an adult.
Hope this article was useful. We look forward to your insights in the comments.