Mild anxiety is a normal part of life, and even very young children go through times when they worry more than they should. Young toddlers often deal with separation anxiety, and teens might get anxious before they have to give a presentation at school. These brief periods of nervousness usually pass once your child matures or gets experience with a new situation.
Yet, there are times when anxiety seems to get worse or lasts too long. Severe anxiety disrupts your child’s life, and leaving it untreated can have a negative impact on their development. Knowing when to take your child to get professional help with their anxiety ensures that they get the assistance they need with managing their emotions.
Do They Have Physical Symptoms?
Children often express anxiety in physical ways when they lack the words to say how they feel. Unresolved anxiety can also lead to tension in the body that comes across as physical symptoms. Your child might have headaches from clenching their jaw, or they may complain that their stomach hurts before an anxiety-inducing activity.
A child with anxiety may also have trouble sleeping at night, or they may turn their nose up at their favorite foods. Parents sometimes write off the physical symptoms of anxiety as their child trying to get attention, or they may attribute them to issues from allergies or past injuries. If your child’s physical symptoms seem to have no obvious cause or they fail to respond to normal treatments, then it is worth checking to see if anxiety might be the underlying cause.
Are They Worrying Excessively?
A child with normal levels of anxiety might express fear every now and then. For instance, a child who has anxiety at bedtime might occasionally try to come to your room at night. Excessive worry is hard to fully define, but you would notice this as your child being worried throughout the majority of the day or night. Anxiety that occurs on a daily basis or without a clear reason is also a sign that your child needs a professional assessment.
Will They Respond To Your Efforts To Help?
In most cases, normal childhood fears are easily soothed by a trusted loved one’s reassurance. Does your child continue to cling to you after you let them know that everything is okay, or do they happily go back to playing? If they still continue to worry despite your best efforts, this is not a failure on your part.
Serious anxiety symptoms often fail to respond to normal reassurances. Instead, your child might experience thoughts that cause them to second guess what you said, or they might simply have their symptom recur. Feeling as though you are unable to console your child is frustrating. At a facility such as Cincinnati Child Anxiety Center, you can learn techniques that you can use with your child at home to help them get control over their symptoms.
Has There Been A Recent Change In Their Life?
There is no doubt that children today are subjected to large amounts of stress that can contribute to anxiety. The recent pandemic is one situation that is affecting the anxiety levels of many children who may see things on the news or hear the adults around them talking about the state of the world.
Some changes in your child’s life might be good, but they are still capable of generating anxiety. Bringing a new child into your family is an example of a life change that could stimulate new anxiety symptoms. Moving to a new home or starting at a new school are two more times when your child might need help addressing their changing emotions.
What Do Other Trusted Adults Say?
Your child’s teachers, coaches and other family members notice behaviors that you might not always witness at home. Coaches sometimes see children express anxiety during practice sessions, or your child’s teacher might be aware that your child is struggling with making or maintaining friendships at school.
If you suspect that your child has anxiety, then it is often worth checking in with the other adults in your child’s life. They may have valuable information that you can use to determine if your child needs a mental health assessment.
Is Anxiety Impacting Their Education?
Children with anxiety often struggle in school. You may see your child’s grades drop if their anxiety is so severe that they can’t focus on quizzes and tests. Older teens might choose to skip class to avoid awkward situations that increase their anxiety such as having to do a group project.
School struggles can also exacerbate anxiety symptoms, and this can make it hard to tell which issue is the bigger problem. Professional therapists know how to figure out how to help children with anxiety be more successful in school.
Has Your Child Stopped Socializing?
Social anxiety is a major issue for children that often increases in severity with age. Most children and teenagers feel nervous about social situations to some degree, but that shouldn’t stop them from trying to engage in new activities. A child who stops spending time with their friends or that avoids normal things such as going to extracurricular activities might need help learning how to cope with their symptoms in social settings.
Are They Avoiding Certain Activities Or Situations?
A child who experiences anxiety regularly may start to avoid things that they associate with their symptoms. Your child might say they no longer want to play sports if they have an anxiety attack on the field. Or, they might claim that they want to stay home when their friends are all going to a big dance. Avoiding certain situations limits your child’s development, and professional counseling can help them regain the opportunity to do new things in life.
Have You Spotted Other Unhealthy Behaviors?
Untreated anxiety often manifests as undesirable behaviors. Substance misuse is common in older children and teens with anxiety who might try to self-medicate their symptoms. Anger is sometimes expressed by children who aren’t able to handle the frustration caused by their symptoms. Anxiety can also co-exist with other mental health issues such as eating disorders. Getting anxiety under control can help your child avoid or to learn how to cope with other challenges that they have mentally and emotionally.
Has Anxiety Gone On For Too Long?
If anxiety can be normal, then your biggest question might be how to know if it has gone on too long. An easy way to make this decision is to see how it interferes with your child’s life. If anxiety has gone on for more than one or two weeks and it causes obvious physical or emotional issues, then it is worth reaching out for help.
Anxiety can take many different forms. While some children experience a brief period of anxiousness, there are times when excessive worrying becomes a major concern. According to Cincinnati Child Anxiety Center, trained professionals can assess your child to find out if they need treatment for anxiety. If they do need help, then your child will work with an experienced and compassionate professional who will give them tools for managing anxiety that they can use for the rest of their life.
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