All children experience some feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings are usually temporary and the child doesn’t suffer any lasting ramifications from them. But today, one out of eight children suffers from chronic child anxiety disorder and need help to deal with those feelings.
Growing up in today’s world is full of stress. There’s so much more to learn in school, media stories about violence against children, competition to get into prestigious colleges, find a job and “fit in.” Children need to develop skills early on to help them cope with life’s pitfalls and hurdles.
Your child may have an anxiety disorder if they manifest some of the following behavior patterns:
· Headaches and other aches and pains that make them want to miss school or skip events where they might need to interact with others.
· Rapid heartbeats that cause the child to panic.
· Frequent stomachaches and vomiting.
· Worries about everything.
· Frequent temper tantrums.
There are many other ways that your child might show symptoms of stress and anxiety, but know that any pattern of behavior that becomes problematic needs to be examined and addressed. The best way to accomplish that is to have the child diagnosed by your health care provider.
The good news is that child anxiety disorders can be managed. Children can learn skills to face fears and calm themselves if they panic or have feelings of anxiety. In severe cases, there is medication to help children get over stress and anxiety. Parents can be the ultimate way that children learn coping skills by being good role models in the home.
Talk to your child and reassure them that everyone suffers from anxiety and panic at certain times and that anxiety itself won’t harm him in any way, even though it feels horrible when it’s happening. Help your child learn and practice coping skills that will help next time a situation threatens to bring on a panic or anxiety attack.
Stress and anxiety can be more difficult to cope with if the child has chronic ear infections, anemia, allergies or another disorder such as bulimia or anorexia. Make sure you have your child checked out by your health care provider if you suspect any of these symptoms.
Sometimes a child anxiety disorder may not manifest itself in disruptive behavior. Often a child can be obedient and quiet and the disorder may not catch the attention of teachers or even parents. Anxiety that’s never detected may cause other problems such as depression and panic attacks when the child reaches adulthood.
If you notice any change in your child’s behavior or if he or she becomes withdrawn or displays any of the other symptoms we discussed, seek a diagnosis. Chances are you can treat the child by helping them face their fears and develop self-esteem that will help them now – and throughout their lives.