How to know if your child is anxious? To be honest; anxious children are often quiet and well behaved so, it is difficult to ascertain anxiety in children at a young age. If the thought of anxiety comes to the minds of parents, they often rule it out as a one-off incident and think that the child will grow out of it. Other parents think of it as normal behaviour and seem to just get accustomed to it. But, undiagnosed and untreated anxiety can lead to depression and a decrease in the quality of life when the child grows up.
But don’t worry. Feeling anxious is normal. Everyone experiences it from time to time. But then when to know if the anxiety is a problem? If your child is worrying too much, wants to miss school due to some fear, does not participate in activities, is withdrawn and likes to be kept alone, and if these feelings generally get in the way of the child’s daily schedule and activities, then it is a problem.
The next question that arises then is how to let your child know about anxiety? Parents need to deal it with love and compassion and explain to their children that anxiety is a normal occurrence and can be managed successfully with a little help. Motivate your child to open up to you regarding their fears and worries. It can help if you share your experiences with your child about something you were scared of at their age. Being specific and asking them about their anxious moments can also help.
As a parent, you need to support your child by letting him/ her know that their fears are real and you aren’t writing them off or neglecting them. Show acceptance of your child’s feelings and stay calm. Children are more likely to remain calm if their parents are calm.
Giving your child knowledge and information regarding anxiety can also be increasingly helpful. If you believe or have doubts that your child may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, contact your paediatricians at the earliest. They will recommend a doctor for counselling and therapy. Remember, there is nothing wrong with going to therapy. Therapy may seem difficult and stressful in the beginning, but it’s because the child’s feelings are being uncovered. Therapy is extremely beneficial in the long run.
Help your child to recognize what triggers his/her anxiety. There are three major ways in which anxiety comes up and shows; physical reactions, fearful thoughts and actions. Common examples of anxiety in children include:
1. An upset stomach repeatedly 2. Trouble going to sleep or waking up 3. Sleeping too much or too little 4. Tantrums and tears when the child is worried 5. Crying before going to school, refusing to go and having difficulties going back to school after long breaks 6. Constantly seeking reassurance. 7. staying isolated and refusing to participate in activities.
Parents need to remember that to the child, their parents are the most important. So it is your duty as a parent to be loving and supporting towards the child particularly more, during anxious moments. This will help the child cope and conquer their anxiety. And we repeat, please do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist. They are professionals who know what to do in these situations. They can help your child and you both. Sending all parents love and warmth!