What Your Anxious Child Wants You to Know

As explained by an adult who once was an anxious child.

Source: Treddy Chen on Unsplash

I have had anxiety since I was age 7. Growing up, I struggled to socialize or speak up. I was too quiet and afraid of nearly everything.

But that never stopped me from being labeled the happy child. And that’s all because I hid it well.

I didn’t know what was happening to me or how to stop it. I just thought this was how things were with everyone. As I got older though, I realized that was not the case. To appear normal to my friends, I began to hide my fears, which only worsened them.

When I turned 18 I started working in childcare. I worked with children of all ages. I learned how to recognize the children who had anxiety: because they were just like me.

I paid special attention to the anxious children in my class. I wanted to help them get socialized and go at the pace they were comfortable with. I remember being so scared as a child — I wanted to make sure those kids didn’t experience what I had.

I wanted my anxious kids to walk out of my class with a smile on their faces, not quiet and scared. It was easy for me to understand where they were coming from based on my own history with anxiety.

Now, here are the three things your anxious child wants you to know.

They want help

The first and most important thing is that your child wants you to know they need help.

They won’t know how to say it.

They don’t know how to express it.

They just need help.

I was so afraid, but I didn’t know why. You’re child most likely feels the same way.

I wanted people to care about me and ask–I wanted people to really want to know me. I didn’t feel safe sharing anything.

They are scared

Aside from wanting help, they are scared. They have no idea what is happening.

All they know is something isn’t right, and their friends don’t feel this way.

I worried about my dogs being healthy and safe to the point where all I could do was cry. Due to my intense worrying, I tried to speak up. I was terrified to express how I was feeling.

Many of the times when I would speak up, I would be promptly told to “Relax!” or “Calm down!”And over time, that just made my anxiety worse. There was something wrong with me, and I didn’t know why.

They need you

Your child with anxiety wants you to know that they are scared and need you.

I acted out a lot at home to get attention, which usually pushed me further into isolation. Special time with my important inner circle growing up was important. Whether it was an afternoon at Chuck E Cheese or an afternoon walk around the neighborhood — it helped.

I liked feeling that closeness — I needed to know that I was okay. I couldn’t express it or understand it, but that’s what I really needed.

They need you now–more than anything else in the whole entire world.

Their anxiety may push them towards dangerous alternatives, like drug use or self-harm.

Each child is different and unique. This is a perspective I am sharing about my own unique experience. But overall, the three points in this article are essential to remember.

I learned how to make my life work with anxiety growing up. It was difficult and challenging. I had a small social circle

Knowing the signs and symptoms of anxiety is essential to prevent your child from suffering alone with mental health issues.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Anxiety and Children: The Signs and Symptoms that Parents Need to Know

The lesser-known symptoms of anxiety that children experience.

Source: Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Since the age of 7, I have had anxiety. Growing up, I always felt the need to make sure things were okay. I noticed things I needed to worry about. I worried about them because I genuinely believed that no one else would worry and everything would be ruined.

There were things that I felt that I needed to worry about — or else who would?

As a child, I always worried about leaving the dryer on while we left the house. I remember going out to lunch, just down the street from where we lived, with my mom. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was so terrified that I would see firefighters racing up the road towards my house.

I was scared that my house would burn down because I did not choose to stay home to watch the dryer. I didn’t even do much laundry at that age; I just believed that bad things would happen.

But all of this really got me thinking. What were the signs and symptoms of anxiety in children that aren’t well known? What makes adult anxiety different from childhood anxiety.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety in children

Not all children can express how they feel. So if a child has a lot of anxiety, they may not share that with their parents. There are many different reasons why a child may not share their feelings:

  • they don’t know what anxiety is
  • they cannot express it through words
  • they are embarrassed

From a child’s perspective, they have no idea what they are feeling is abnormal. All the child knows is worry — and that needs to be stopped. But how can we tell that a child has anxiety? Anxiety can present in physical symptoms and other behavioral symptoms, such as:

  • trouble sleeping
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • stomachaches

Anxiety in general is a broad topic that covers many different types of anxiety.

Types of anxiety

Anxiety is more of an umbrella term. There are three different types of stress that children will commonly have:

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when a child is distraught and upset when separated from their primary caregiver. Separation anxiety from 6 months to 3 years of age is normal, but beyond that, it is unusual.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety occurs within social situations and Teenagers are more likely to suffer from social anxiety throughout all the developmental age groups.

Specific phobia

A specific phobia is when someone experiences anxiety around a specific circumstance. Phobias can range from fear of dogs and germs to heights and flying. Phobias can develop for a number of reasons.

If you would like to learn more about childhood anxiety, I highly encourage you to visit Child Mind.

Over time, anxiety can cause children to become isolative, develop lowered self-esteem, and begin to avoid stressors. Children avoiding stressors to cope with their anxiety will cause further issues as they grow up.

Anxiety is something that can be helped. Promoting positive mental health behaviors can help protect children.

Knowing the signs of anxiety in children, and promoting positive mental health behaviors can help your children. Of course, if you have concerns or see signs of anxiety in your child, it’s best to see their doctor.

Keep your children close, and learn about who they are. Make sure that you leave an open room for dialogue.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak