How to Spot Anxiety in Your Child
As a parent, you may wonder if your child is ‘just a worrier’ or is struggling with anxiety, requiring professional help. You may think that your child’s behavior is just a normal part of growing up, however, if those feelings of nervousness and worry begin to affect your child’s psychological, educational, or social well-being, it is time to consider talking with a therapist trained in working with anxiety disorders in children.
There are several different types of anxiety that a therapist will screen for, including the following most common types of anxiety:
Generalized anxiety is shown in a wide variety of settings, when your child is worried about a variety of things that may happen in the future. Children can agonize about school, the health of loved ones, specific unlikely events, or just the future in general. These excessive worries can cause kids to experience negative physical symptoms, may cause them to miss school, or may make life feel overwhelming.
Separation anxiety often shows itself at school drop-offs or other transitions away from you, such as bedtime, playdates, or when you leave the home. Children can also worry about potential situations where they will be separated from you prior to that event. These children often fear that something bad might happen to them or their parent when they are away from each other.
Social anxiety can be seen when you have an intelligent, expressive child at home, around you or with their siblings, but once at school or around peers, they may avoid interaction or show difficulty participating in class. These children often feel very self-conscious and are afraid of being negatively judged by others.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur in children who have experienced a traumatic event, either directly or indirectly. Children can relive memories or flashbacks of the event. They may also avoid reminders of the incident or experience nightmares. Often, these children have developed these symptoms after an event such as a significant automobile accident, witnessing domestic abuse, or, in more extreme cases, being the victim of abuse.
While all children, like adults, experience worries at one point or another, children who require professional assistance experience symptoms of anxiety most days of the week, which can affect their daily functioning. Signs to look for include:
Worry about things that might happen or have happened
Trouble sleeping at night or fatigue during the day
Nightmares or flashbacks of a traumatic event
Avoiding particular situations or ‘triggers’, such as group work or play-dates
Difficulty concentrating or answering questions
Loss of appetite or eating disturbances
Stomachaches, headaches, or other physical complaints
Irritability or tantruming
Inflexible thinking or self-criticism
Negative thinking or catastrophizing
Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities
If you are concerned that your child may be struggling with feelings of anxiety, contact Defining You for a free phone consultation, contact us via email, or schedule an appointment for an initial appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!