Anxiety is one of the most common difficulties in childhood and it can be devastating for families. Anxiety can rule not only your child’s life, but it can rule your life as well. Seeking support early will help you and your child in the longer term.
I offer parent support, family work and sensitive individual therapy and workshops for children and parents. To help you now, here are the signs, symptoms and common disorders of anxiety.
What causes Anxiety?
We actually do not know what caused anxiety, however, there are several agreed causes:
Just as your child can inherit your brown hair, green eyes, and nearsightedness, a child can also inherit that parent’s anxiety. It is not your fault but sometimes anxiety may be learned from family members who are noticeably stressed or anxious around your child. For example, a child whose parent is a perfectionist may become a perfectionist too. Parents can also contribute to their child’s anxiety without realizing it, by the way they respond to their child and how they manage emotions.
Your Child’s Amygdala
Your Child’s Temperament
There are a number of theories that if your child has a sensitive temperament then they are more likely to suffer from anxiety an depression although this is not always the case.
Some children who suffer from traumatic childhood experiences such as divorce, abuse, the death of a parent/family member, bullying, birth of a sibling, child hospitalized or may be diagnosed with a physical problem such as an allergy or epilepsy.
Anxiety Symptoms, You may notice your child suffering from Physical Symptoms such as:
- Lots of tummy aches
- Feeling sick
- Feeling dizzy
- Dry mouth
- Wanting to go to the toilet a lot
- Not being hungry or wanting to eat too much
You may notice that your child suffers from many negative thoughts and “big feelings” such as
- Worrying about family’s health and preoccupied with death
- Thinking that something will go wrong
- Feeling shy and embarrassed
- Up and down emotions such as meltdowns one minute then feeling scared the next
You may notice certain behaviours such as:
- Wanting to avoid many situations such as going to school, clubs or groups
- Hair pulling, skin picking
- Washing their hands/body a lot
- Clinginess and not wanting to leave you
- Sleep problems
- Difficulties concentrating
- Irritability and angry outbursts
What types of Anxiety are there?
Generalised Anxiety ( GAD)
All of us suffer from worries and anxiety from time to time, however, children who present with generalized anxiety have many worries, thoughts, and feelings. They may want to avoid certain situations, This can be really hard for you to understand, you may feel that they are being totally unrealistic and can become annoyed with anxiety but their worries really interfere with their day to day life. Seek support when your child has been showing signs of anxiety for more than a few weeks if their mood has lowered, your child is distressed, school work suffered and they are not socialising or enjoying activities in the same way they did before. Contact me for a Consultation
Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage. During these ages, it is normal to have fears separating from your parents or carers, children are totally dependent on their carers so it’s natural they are going to feel vulnerable when they are apart. Most children grow out of it, for some children, it doesn’t become easier and they don’t grow out of it, these children may have a hard time saying goodbye, have lots of tummy aches or headaches and cling. If the distress prevents them from participating in age-appropriate activities and learning opportunities like joining sports teams or attending school, seek help and support. Contact me for a consultation
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD )
OCD is a persuasive disorder and is serious where your child will experience frequent obsessional and intrusive thoughts (or obsessions), often followed by uncontrollable urges and compulsions. For more information go to my Blog
Phobias and Fears
A phobia is a persistent, excessive and unreasonable fear of an object or situation. It is thought 5% of children and 16% of teenagers have a phobia in the UK. Phobias are different from normal fears as they normally become more severe with age. Children and teenagers with phobias can feel huge shame about their fears, often because messages from others may be that they are being silly or overreacting.
Common phobia’s I’ve worked with are being sick ( Emetophobia), dentists, bees, toilets and spiders and more. It can be really distressing for children and hugely debilitating for parents too when you are out and you feel you have to avoid certain situations. If you need help, Contact me for a Consultation
Whilst we all might worry about what other people think of us, and may become anxious if we have to speak in front of others or attend a new club or class, however, social anxiety is a diagnosable anxiety disorder that results in your child feeling an immense and limiting fear that they may do something to humiliate themselves in social settings. It can mean that the child avoids many activities, such as attending a club, speaking or eating in public or any group situation. This might mean they become socially withdrawn, and may even develop school refusal. For more on Social Anxiety versus shyness, read more at my blog
- As if they are dying
- They are trembling
- They can’t breathe
- Shake uncontrollably
- Racing heart beat
The good news is they can be easily treated. Each of you can learn techniques to understand the stress response and ways of managing them, it often involves using Cognitive behavioural strategies and sometimes family work too. If you need support and empowerment, Contact me for a Consultation and attend My Stop the Worry Cycle Workshop, it’s my way of you helping your child and preventing mental health disorders.