Recognize the Signs
Child anxiety is very common but sometimes might be minimized or even overlooked by well meaning friends or family members.
Such phrases as "that's just the way he is" or "he will grow out of it" brush over abnormal behavior. Thus, the child never learns healthy coping skills and carries their childhood anxiety into adulthood.
Why can I say that? As a child I remember rocking forward and back very frequently and rocking myself to sleep also. I also remember feeling uncomfortable sitting completely still. I always had to be moving my leg or foot.
I remember at the age of 10 being deeply affected by the death of my paternal grandmother which left me emotionally numb but very afraid and over-analytical about death.
Then, at the age of 15 (during adolescence) I experienced my first anxiety attack
(Read my experience here).
So, from personal experience I can assure you that had I known the coping skills I know now, life emotionally as a child would have been much easier.
And child anxiety can be difficult to detect because they may not know how to express themselves yet.
So, I have tried to identify
some signs below that may help you
identify child anxiety:
*1. Does your child scare easily? Intense levels of fright may indicate anxiety in your child.
*2. Does your child appear to worry a lot? - Such worry may be the result of an over-active imagination but if it's excessive, it could signal anxiety.
*3. Does your child seem to be a perfectionist, always needing things a certain way? - This could suggest that a child is looking for ways to feel in control since he doesn't feel in control of his feelings.
*4. Does your child have a hard time sitting still? - If a child fidgets abnormally this could be a sign of high levels of adrenaline in the body that causes a feeling of tension or anxiety.
*5. Does your child ever mention
Or that they feel like they are in a bubble? - This can be a coping mechanism, much like fantasizing, to help a child cope with stress.
*6. Does your child tend to isolate himself from other children? - Due to internal feelings of fear, some children avoid new people and surroundings.
*7. Does your child have abnormal habits or rituals? - In order to distract themselves from their anxieties, some children develop rituals to cope or feel in control.
*8. Does your child seems be abnormally sad? - Some children become depressed due to feelings of stress and anxiety.
*9. Does your child become angered very easily? - Some children respond in anger due to feelings of frustration rooted in anxiety.
*10. Does your child appear to be exceptionally creative? - Creative minds are wonderful but if it accompanies many of the above symptoms or seems to be obsessional, your child may have anxiety. Why? Because they are analytical and this could compute to worry.
Child Anxiety: What Should You Do?
Encourage your child to express himself by asking questions (Ex. How are you really doing son? Is there anything that you would like to talk about? Is there anything that is bothering you?)
Assure your child that you are there for them and that they can express anything to you, now matter how scary or ugly it might be.
Don't over-react to your child's expressions or get upset. Let them pour out their heart to you. Encourage them to talk to you whenever they feel like it. Tell them you will always be there to listen.
Upbuild your child by commending them for their accomplishments and assuring them of your love. Give them hugs as often as possible!
Teach them to think positively about themselves and
to love themselves as much as you do.
The above suggestions will help with child anxiety, they will serve to give your child a good basis for combating his/her obsessional or fearful thoughts. Don't give up on your child.
If your child expresses very anxious thoughts,
try this exercise:
Have your child write down (for themselves) their anxieties on separate pieces of paper. Talk them out. Remind them that there is no need to fear these feelings anymore because we are going to get rid of them. Then, go in the back yard to a safe place and build a small fire together and (using caution, obviously) have them throw their anxieties into the fire one by one. And assure them that they are gone, burned up, and we are going to let them go! This is an exercise that may help them visualize letting go of their fears.
And in time, if you see the need to seek medical help, don't be ashamed.
Teach your child that there exists some emotional illnesses that require therapy or medication just as any other physical illness might require therapy or medication. The end result is to help them get better.
Don't ever give up on your child, they will be grateful for the rest of their lives for the effort you put forth to help them to be emotionally healthy.
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