Anxiety is a common issue for adults and kids, but it can be especially troubling for children. It affects about five million children, and it can be difficult for parents to know how to handle their child’s anxiety and the best course of action. Here’s a closer look at anxiety in kids and discuss its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments.
What Causes Anxiety in Kids?
There are many potential causes of anxiety in kids. Here are some of the most common reasons for it:
Stressful Life Events
It is not uncommon for children to experience heightened anxiety levels when they face stressful life events such as moving, divorce, or the death of a family member or pet. Children are naturally curious and seek answers to the questions around them; however, it may be hard for them to put these events into words or understand why they happen. Parents can provide support by giving their children an outlet for communication and providing comfort through physical touch (hugs) and positive reinforcement.
Genetics significantly affects how people respond to certain situations and experiences in life. For example, if someone has a history of mental health disorders in their family, like depression or anxiety, this could predispose them to develop similar conditions. While genetics cannot be controlled, parents can better prepare themselves by understanding their family history and seeking professional help.
Kids are easily overstimulated due to their developing brains; if they experience too much stimulation from loud noises or crowds, they could quickly start feeling anxious or overwhelmed and act out with behaviors like tantrums or violence. Therefore, parents should note what environments make their children feel uncomfortable or unsafe so that they can avoid those scenarios in the future if possible. Also, teaching relaxation techniques such as deep breathing can help kids manage stress when they feel overwhelmed by overstimulation.
Fear of Failure
As kids grow older and become exposed to more academic challenges, they may start worrying about failing because they fear disappointing others (especially parents) or not meeting expectations set by themselves or other people around them. Parents should recognize this fear but provide reassurance that failure is ok—it’s part of growing up! Encourage your child instead of chastising them when something does not go as planned; this will help build confidence so that your child does not become paralyzed by fear of failure in the future.
Lack of Coping Mechanisms
Kids need guidance from adults on how best to handle emotions like fear, sadness, anger, etc., especially since many lack the cognitive skills necessary for self-regulation. That’s why parents need to create an open environment where kids feel comfortable expressing their feelings without judgment; moreover, parents should work on teaching problem-solving skills, such as mediating conflicts with peers, so that kids have healthy coping mechanisms available when issues arise at home or school.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Kids
Anxiety presents itself differently in each child, but some common signs may indicate your child is struggling with anxious feelings. Some typical physical symptoms include irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, headaches, digestive issues such as nausea or diarrhea, and muscle tension. Behavioral signs may include avoidance of certain activities or situations, difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, an outburst of anger or frustration, clinginess to loved ones, and changes in academic performance such as decreased grades or missed classes/assignments.
Treating Anxiety in Kids
Anxiety can be problematic for children. But, here are ways you can treat it.
Anxiety can have a physical reason behind it. That’s why you should visit your local pediatric clinic and get your child checked. They can look into potential medical causes of anxiety, such as thyroid conditions or nutrient deficiencies.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Encouraging healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and connecting with friends can go a long way toward reducing anxiety levels in children. These activities help kids engage in self-care practices that promote better overall health while also helping them build resilience and coping skills for managing stressors in their lives. Additionally, helping your children learn relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) will give them more tools to manage difficult situations or emotions that arise from their anxiety.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in life. However, it can become particularly problematic when it impacts our kids’ well-being and daily functioning. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your child manage their anxious thoughts and feelings. With the right support system, you can help your child get back on track emotionally and live the happiest life possible!