Growing up can be a very stressful time as children learn how to interact with many new stimuli and environments. In many situations, this will result in temper tantrums or behavior which leaves your child clinging to you. This is all part and parcel of growing up, and your kids will usually recover quickly as they start to make sense of the world around them.
However, if you find that your child struggles in certain situations or doesn’t respond to your comforting after facing a challenging situation, then this could indicate that they are suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can cause a great deal of disruption to you and your child’s life, so make sure you talk with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Anxiety may present itself in different ways but here is a list of some common symptoms which may indicate your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder:
- trouble concentrating
- quick to anger
- out of control temper tantrums
- not eating properly
- regular tummy aches and complaints about feeling unwell
- always worrying and displaying negative thoughts
- feeling tense and unable to sit still for any length of time
- always crying and being clingy
Anxiety disorders can be something kids are born with or that they pick up from the environment around them. Sometimes the anxiety comes as a result of a traumatic event in their life such as bullying, different forms of abuse, and instability at home – regular moves, parents fighting or separations.
When you take your child to see the pediatrician, they will ask you how things are at home as it allows them to get a better picture of whether external factors are at play. This, in turn, will help them decide whether they need to investigate the child’s symptoms further and what treatment may be required.
Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Kids who suffer from GAD will worry about all kinds of everyday things such as homework, food, and birthday parties. GAD can impact all areas of a child’s life and make it difficult for them to relax and have fun. Also, it can create problems with eating and sleeping.
Separation Anxiety – This usually causes problems for younger kids, and most kids will display mild symptoms at some point such as when they first go to school. However, if these issues persist and you find it hard to get your child to sleep alone or to stay at school for prolonged periods, then you may need help.
Social Anxiety – Kids can be shy as they gain a sense of their ‘self,’ but if you find that they are having trouble interacting with other kids, it may because they are anxious about these interactions. Socially troubled kids will find being center of attention unbearable, finding it hard to answer questions in class or work in groups.
How to Help a Child with an Anxiety Disorder
You should mention any concerns you have regarding your child’s behavior when you meet with your pediatrician. Your child may just be suffering from growing pains or having some issues that they are unable to articulate. If your pediatrician feels that they have an anxiety disorder, then the treatment will depend on their age and the particular type of anxiety.
There is a wide range of treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), counseling and anxiety medicines. In all cases, the treatment will be designed to help your child manage their symptoms as soon as possible.