Educating Yourself About Anxiety In Children [PDF DOWNLOAD]
If you’ve opened this article, then you probably have suspected you child may be suffering anxiety, or maybe you’re concerned about your child’s well-being?
The thing about anxiety- is that can be really hard to detect, because children who suffer from anxiety problems don’t always seem overly anxious or fearful. And that is why I’m going to help you understand how anxiety appears and how it operates.
Anxiety in children can show up in so many different ways. Some parents don’t understand their child’s exaggerated or irrational concerns.
“Why does Grace worry that every time I go grocery shopping alone, I’m going to get into a car accident and not make it home?”
“Why does Bella Worry so much about an upcoming math test when she’s done so well in lessons, and knows the answers?”
“Why does Lucas think that nobody likes him, when he’s actually pretty popular and well liked, in his class?”
Essentially what all of these boil down to, are questions like:
“Why doesn’t my child understand reason?”
"Why doesn’t my child learn that his fears are exaggerated and everything is never as bad as he predicted will happen?”
And that’s what this article will explain.
It’s heartbreaking to watch our children struggle with worries that interfere with his or her activities. Anxiety issues are both exhausting, stressful, contentious, and can have a huge effect on both the sufferer, and his or her loved ones.
Anxious children tend to interpret even safe situations as dangerous situations.
Children with anxiety tend to notice potential threats and situations other children would not even consider. For example, an anxious child might panic when a fire truck drives by, but other children might look at the truck with excitement. Because anxious children interpret more situations as threatening, they tend to be on high alert for potential danger in their daily lives. The more they look for potential danger, the more they notice threats and the more anxious they
feel.Anxious children usually don’t learn from experience.
We learn from experience at all different ages, if you think about a time where you made a mistake that had consequences… You might notice you have never forgotten what earned you your first traffic ticket, or the consequences of being late paying a bill. Children who have anxiety, do not learn in this way from their experiences. They have a deficit that interferes with what learning theorists call ‘inhibitory learning.’ What this means is that despite numerous experiences in feared situations that ended up being nothing as they predicted- they don’t learn to be less afraid.
The Nature of Anxiety:
Many scientists believe that anxiety disorders are caused not by the fears themselves, but by attempts to escape or control the uncomfortable sensations and thoughts that a company anxiety – such as a rapid heartbeat or unwanted recurrent thoughts. These tactics are referred Two eyes “avoidance and safety behaviours.”
Attempts to avoid, suppress, or escape discomfort are often with parents and teachers of an anxious child notice first. Anxiety can appear as I worry or fear, accompanied by clear physical signs such as hyperventilation, shaking, and terror. It can also often appear as sensitivity, clinginess, shyness, quirkiness, opposition defiance, low self-confidence, pessimism, procrastination, anger, and indecision.. And the list doesn't end there.
As you can see, most of the signs are not so obvious. Although the signs may differ, the basic nature of anxiety is the same. Deep down, and anxious child fears being in a particular situation he or she believes will result in a negative consequence.
The source of your child’s anxiety may not be obvious to you right now, but as you read more about anxiety, you will be able to pinpoint what your child fears.
For example, Grace fears going to school , Because she worries one of her friends who was not there yesterday, will not be her friend when she comes back. Her symptoms include a nervous stomach and nausea the night before school, and she constantly tells her parents that she doesn’t feel good. Grace also has a meltdown in the morning picking out clothing, and then picking out breakfast.. Getting more anxious the closer school time comes.
Lucas fears taking a test at school, he’s worried he’s not going to get a good enough mark like everyone else. His symptoms are less obvious than Grace’s, he avoids raising his hand in class, in case he gives the wrong answer, and he tells his parents he forgot his homework at school- and then tells his teacher he forgot his homework at home, to avoid studying.
As a parent, you may observe less obvious signs of avoidance, escape, and suppression behaviours rather than anxiety. The important thing to remember is that the underlying nature of anxiety is the same, regardless of how you see it affecting your child.
Anxiety disorders are common in children.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common type of psychological problems children experience. In fact, one in eight children suffers from a significant anxiety disorder. This means that in an average class of school-age children, three will suffer from some type of anxiety symptoms that cause significant distress, interfere with their ability to engage in typical activities, or both.
Symptoms can show up in children as young as four or five years old, even though you might even notice symptoms earlier. Anxiety can show up in many less than obvious ways, which many parents are aware of and don’t know that it is anxiety that is the root cause of the child’s behaviours or symptoms. As a result, the parents and even some paediatricians or mental health professionals, may dismiss symptoms as it “developmentally normal” or “just a phase.”
Even though parents may not be able to recognize that a child is suffering from anxiety, they know their child best, and know when something feels off.
If you suspect your child anxiety adversely affects his or her day today activities, read the next article.
A Family History of Anxiety issues?
If you haven’t done so already, it would be a good idea to take some time to see if anyone who is genetically related to your child suffers from anxiety.
A family history of anxiety issues predisposes a child to such disorders. Although there are many complex factors like temperament and environmental influences that play a role in the development of anxiety disorders, genetic heredity has consistently been found to be a leading risk factor.
Scientists do not fully understand the complex hereditary and environmental factors that contribute to the development of anxiety disorders, but research is making the picture more clear!! Researchers have even developed programs to help prevent those at risk due to genetic factors from developing anxiety disorders
Your child’s anxiety was probably not caused by bad parenting or Traumatic events, especially if your child has not been neglected, traumatized, or abused.
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