Last updated on May 18, 2019by
Parents, have you ever wondered how to know if your child has anxiety? Or, if you find yourself wondering “Does my child have anxiety?”, then this article is just for you!
According to the World Health Organization, a shocking 10 – 20% of the world’s children and adolescents suffer from some form of mental illness or another.
What’s even worse is that sometimes it can take up to a DECADE for them to receive any form of treatment as many of their symptoms are overlooked as just “growing pains” or they are too shy to voice their anxieties in fear of further ridicule. This leads to action that is only taken once the condition reaches a crisis level and sometimes that could be too late!
AnxietyPanda has had anxious feelings since being a little cub but was told that she is just shy and seeking attention and that she had to stop making up stories. So, AnxietyPanda put on a brave face and never mentioned it again.
She didn’t want anybody to think she is making up stories, after all, so even though the feelings and thoughts were very real, she put on a brave face and kept everything inside which was such a big mistake.
Parents, please, if your child tells you they’re anxious, please get the help of a professional even if you don’t believe the child. At the very least ask them if they would like or need any help. Be there for them and be supportive.
AnxietyPanda’s life would have had a completely different turn, had her plea been heard all those years ago.
So, what are the symptoms to look out for?
Early Warning Signs – Symptoms of Childhood Anxiety Disorders
If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms for more than a week or two, they may have an anxiety disorder.
It is best to have it checked out immediately, and preferably referred to a therapist or natural healer as you don’t want a medicated child who will not be able to live their life to the fullest due to being medicated.
Only consider medication if it is absolutely necessary for recovery and will only be administered for a few months in order to lessen the severity before other treatments are implemented.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to, headaches, nausea or vomiting, stomach upsets, insomnia, tantrums, or faking sickness in order to not have to go to school.
AnxietyPanda used to fake being sick a lot and got away with it because her parents did not believe that she had a mental problem, but did believe her when she said she had a physical problem.
She’d sometimes get away with being off sick for two weeks at a time and even the doctors didn’t know she wasn’t ill. She got treatments for sinus and all sorts of ailments as they couldn’t figure out what was wrong, even though nothing was physically wrong and it was her mental health that needed attention.
Other symptoms include clinginess, anger outbursts, nightmares or signs of perfectionism (due to them being scared of what others will think of them).
Did you know that toddlers and young children also suffer from night terrors and anxieties? For a comprehensive guide on what this is, how it differs from a nightmare, and how you can help your little one overcome this, read Moms Loves Best’s article: Fright at Night: Helping Your Toddler’s Night Terrors
AnxietyPanda recalls having to sit for hours trying to get her fur in perfect condition before school and would feel panicky and cry if she couldn’t get every last hair to fall perfectly into place.
There would also be major drama and tears if there was any mention of being late for class or anything else for that matter.
All the other school pandas would stare and laugh at her if she was late! AnxietyPanda just couldn’t deal with that.
As an adult, AnxietyPanda still has issues with being late.
Even though it is considered to be a good thing that you will always be on time, stressing about being 5 minutes late is really not worth the toll on yourself, in panda’s humble opinion.
Also, take heed if your child comes to you with unrealistic scenarios and always only focuses on the worst case outcomes or if your child seems to be withdrawn and tends to stay on the gloomy side of the spectrum.
Your Child May Have Anxiety – Now What?
If there’s any reason to believe that your child may have an anxiety disorder, it is very important to take them for a diagnosis as soon as possible.
After all, if your child fell and broke their arm, you wouldn’t wait to take them for treatment, would you? No. You would rush them to the emergency room, of course!
Why should mental illness be any different from a physical one?
Anxiety is treatable, and if picked up on early enough and dealt with effectively, your child will be able to enjoy a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
Common treatments include:
Psychotherapy and/or behavior therapy.
This is AnxietyPanda’s number 1 recommendation, but please always listen to the directions of your physician.
Receiving psychotherapy will teach your child how to effectively manage their anxiety and they will learn skills to change their negative self-talk to more positive self-talk.
They will be in an environment where they can feel safe to talk about their fears and the therapist will be able to validate their thoughts and help them to work through any negative thoughts and struggles.
Although there may be severe cases where medication is a necessity to treat certain symptoms, AnxietyPanda definitely doesn’t recommend having your anxious child medicated.
This is due to the number of side effects and restrictions it places on your child.
Try to work with your physician to explore other avenues of treatment, such as behavior therapy, as mentioned above.
Parents, remember that you can also play a crucial role in helping your little one overcome their anxieties.
Be sure to provide them with a balanced diet and be sure to exclude caffeine from their diets.
Fresh fruit and veg should be given in preference of sugary sweets and treats.
Boost their diet with a daily multivitamin supplement.
Make sure they get regular exercise and that they follow a healthy sleeping regime.
You can further assist your child by teaching them independence and by supporting their decisions.
Try not to voice your own fears or anxieties in front of them and rather focus on building their self-confidence by providing them with manageable tasks or expectations and praising their efforts towards reaching these.
There is an excellent workbook available on Amazon called “What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety”, written by Dr. Dawn Huebner. Read AnxietyPanda’s Review on it here.
A Final Thought
Please don’t beat yourself up if your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder.
It is not your fault and there is nothing wrong with it.
There are quite a number of reasons why a child may end up suffering from anxiety.
It could be hereditary, but it also could have something to do with environmental effects or past conditioning and behaviors learned from others, such as aunts or grandparents or even close friends, that were out of your control.
Whatever you do, please don’t ignore their cry for help or play it down due to your own fears.
With the proper diagnosis and treatment, childhood anxiety conditions can be overcome and will ensure a better and fuller life for your child.
Do you have a child that suffers from an anxiety disorder?
How did you know that your child has anxiety?
Please feel free to share any advice or experiences in the comments.