How do you know if your child is struggling with anxiety? Anxiety, worry and fear can disguise themselves in many different ways, masquerading as moodiness, recklessness, or aloofness among many characteristics. If your child has experienced anxiety and/or some sort of trauma in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, please watch for warning signs. Kids who struggle with anxiety often do so silently or their actions are mistakable for other problems.
Here are some key signs to look for to know if your child is struggling with anxiety:
Poor sleep can be linked to many things aside from anxiety like consuming caffeine too late in the day or being on your phone before bedtime. However, if your child is not sleeping well in addition to other concerning signs, please do not gloss over trouble sleeping.
Complaining of stomach aches or other physical ailments
Frequent stomach aches can be an indication of anxiety. Stress can decrease the amount of blood and oxygen getting to the stomach, which can cause inflammation and make pre-existing gastrointestinal problems worse.
Trouble focusing or sitting still
On its own, fidgeting can point to a plethora of things from boredom to ADD. If this symptom accompanies other more concerning signs, you may want to look into it further with the help of a professional.
Persistent or unreasonable fear of an object or situation (flying, animals, heights, etc.)
It’s normal to be hesitant of bees or snakes. However, if a specific fear keeps a child from being willing to go outside or do normal activities, you will need to work with an expert to help your child overcome their anxiety.
Excessive use of phone and social media
Determining when phone and social media use crosses over into abuse is tricky. The two are psychologically rewarding and allow the user to unplug from reality. Kids and adults are guilty of using devices to check out, so how can we know when it is going too far? If you notice that your child habitually and immediately goes to their phone when they are stressed or frustrated, it may be time to intervene. Turning to technology can lead to undeveloped coping skills, kids engaging in dangerous online relationships and much more.
Anxiety demonstrated by parents
If you are anxious, it’s likely at least one of your kids are too. These uncertain times can be very overwhelming and cause parents to be nervous and frustrated. These feelings pour over into every aspect of our lives, including on our kids. Try to be aware of how anxiety might be directing your thoughts and actions and then watch for that in your kids.
Unresolved anxiety can lead to many unfortunate consequences. Lifelong anxiety, hopelessness, and depression often follow anxiety when it goes unchecked. I have worked with many students and adults to overcome anxiety and get them back to good mental health. Please reach out if you would like to discuss this topic more.