Anyone can experience anxiety — even young children. Identifying the signs of anxiety in kids, however, can be difficult. If anxiety goes undiagnosed and untreated in a child for an extended period, it can have far-flung effects on their long-term health.
Parents must keep an eye out for signs of anxiety in their children. In doing so, they can help their kids manage anxiety before it gets out of hand. Plus, they can ensure their kids are well-equipped to deal with anxiety long into the future.
Is Anxiety Common in Young Children?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children. The CDC indicates approximately 7.1% of kids between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety. In addition, CDC notes anxiety in kids frequently occurs in conjunction with depression.
It is normal for children to feel anxious or worried at times. However, persistent feelings of anxiety or worry can affect a child’s thoughts and behaviors. They can worsen over time — to the point where they can cause a slew of mental and physical symptoms.
Kids coping with anxiety may have trouble concentrating and sleeping. These children are prone to angry outbursts and irritability. They are increasingly susceptible to stomach pain and other physical side effects as well.
There is no telling when signs of anxiety will crop up in a child. Regardless, a parent should watch for these signs and address them immediately. If any symptoms of anxiety occur, a parent can bring their child to a doctor. At this time, a doctor can perform an assessment and offer a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan to the child.
What Triggers Anxiety in Children?
There is no surefire cause of anxiety in kids. Conversely, there are several common anxiety triggers in children, and these include:
- Social Situations: Kids may feel overwhelmed by social situations, which may lead children to isolate themselves from others as an avoidance tactic.
- Loss of a Loved One: Children can feel extreme grief due to the loss of a loved one, which can also trigger anxiety.
- Major Life Changes: Kids who go through a move, welcome a baby into their family, or experience other significant life changes may be susceptible to anxiety symptoms.
Parents can keep the lines of communication open relative to anxiety triggers. They can ask questions to find out how their kids are feeling, and they can encourage their children to speak up with any concerns or questions.
Furthermore, parents should remain accessible to their kids. By staying present in a child’s life, a parent can foster a relationship built on trust and respect. This can help a child feel comfortable discussing their feelings with their parents. It can empower a parent to help their child manage anxiety into adulthood, too.
Will Anxiety in Children Disappear on Its Own?
Anxiety affects all people, at all stages of life. Parents cannot prevent their children from experiencing anxiety. But they can help their kids find safe, healthy, and effective ways to manage their anxiety symptoms.
To get started on helping children manage anxiety, parents should educate their kids about the topic. A doctor can provide resources to help a parent teach their children about anxiety. Moreover, parents can access free anxiety resources from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
In some instances, it can be beneficial to revamp a home environment to accommodate a child coping with anxiety. For example, a sensory-sensitive child may be prone to anxiety symptoms at home. As such, a parent can redecorate, change the paint color on the walls, or make other home interior changes. With each change, the parent can make their home more comfortable for their sensory-sensitive child.
Also, it is paramount for parents to help their children deal with anxiety to maintain a healthy quality of life at home. Parents can remove clutter and establish a noise and distraction-free living space. This can help kids enjoy a positive home environment where they continuously feel their best.
Lastly, parents should not wait to address anxiety or any mental health concerns in their children. Be proactive: if any signs of anxiety or other mental health issues arise, consult with a doctor. From here, a parent and kid can work with a doctor to determine the best course of action to help the child cope with anxiety.
The Bottom Line on Helping Kids Deal with Anxiety
Mental health issues can hamper a child’s growth and development. These issues can make it tough for a child to connect with others and foster meaningful relationships. They can ultimately prevent a kid from becoming the best version of himself or herself as well.
Anxiety is prominent in children and adults. By identifying the signs of anxiety early, anyone can seek out medical assistance to find the best ways to manage this issue.
Parents should do their part to help their children cope with anxiety. They can support their kids and do everything they can to help them manage anxiety symptoms. As a result, parents can ensure their kids can cope with anxiety at any stage of life.
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.