Are You Anxious About Your Child Being Anxious?
Every child experiences anxiety at some point in their life. A toddler who has lost their lovey feels anxious, a child starting their first day at a new school feels anxious, and a teen who has a big essay due the next day (that they haven’t even started on!) feels anxious. Yes, feeling anxious at times is a fact of life, but in some children and teens, it reaches a point where it becomes an issue.
The question, then, is this: when is it time to be anxious about the amount of anxiety our children are experiencing? And, furthermore, how do we become more attuned to our own underlying anxieties, in order to help keep our children from learning anxious behavior? The answer isn’t easy!
Know The Difference Between Normal And Abnormal Anxiety Levels
To some extent, anxiety and distress are completely natural responses to certain stressful situations or environments. For example, over short periods of time, children may display fear of loud noises, dark places, or separation from their parents. After all, feelings of anxiety and worry are naturally part of what drives us as humans to prepare for challenges, as well as to adapt and grow.
However, more severe or chronic anxiety can complicate children’s lives. The symptoms of anxiety can vary greatly from child to child, but here are some common examples:
- Fears about the safety of their family
- Refusal to attend school, to be separated from family, or to engage in social situations
- Frequent physical complaints like headaches or stomach aches
- Extreme fear of a specific situation or thing
- Unwillingness to meet or talk to new people
- Fear of making mistakes
When severe anxiety begins to hinder a child’s ability to function in everyday situations and environments, or when symptoms of anxiety are very often present in a child’s life, it may be time to seek help.
Consider Your Own Anxiety Levels
We are all products of our own upbringings. Consider this: how much of your own life’s journey is driven by anxieties that may have imprinted on you as a child? What opportunities are you missing out on simply because your own anxiety overrides your natural desires and intentions? What lens are you looking through when witnessing your children, and are you anxious about their anxieties because you recognize something of yourself in them?
As parents, we constantly act as models for our children. But when we model about our own emotional triggers, we may unwittingly project our own anxieties onto them. (In fact, this concern in and of itself may very well make you anxious.) And while not many people would blame you for the anxious concern, will our children someday question us for it?
Get Early Treatment for Overly Anxious Children
According to an article in the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, early treatment of an overly anxious child can prevent future difficulties, such as loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential, and feelings of low self-esteem.
If you feel that your child’s severe anxiety has begun to interfere with their ability to carry out their daily life, consider reaching out to our team at MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care. We can determine a treatment plan designed to help your child cope with stress, and alleviate feelings of fear and low self-esteem.