Nerves or Childhood Anxiety?
It is very common for people to feel nervous from time to time. This is especially true for children, who are regularly encountering new experiences that test them. Being afraid of separating from their parents is normal in kids 4 and younger, just as its normal for adolescents to fear being viewed negatively by their friends and peers. However, how do you know if your child is experiencing normal stress or if they may be struggling with an anxiety disorder?
Hypervigilance describes a child that is always on guard. They are constantly scanning their environment for signs of danger and react to even the slightest change. Anxious children are more likely to feel that the world is threatening. They are also more likely to only pay attention to information that supports their belief that the world is dangerous.
For children with anxiety disorders, avoiding the feared situation is often their primary way of dealing with their worries. Depending on the child’s age and the feared situation, this can look like negotiation, whining, dragging their feet, skipping social events or school, and many more. Anything to get themselves out of the situation that they fear.
Children with anxiety disorders may have huge negative reactions to being made to engage in a feared activity. They may have tantrums like a much younger child, those tantrums may last for a long period of time, or they may engage in unsafe behaviors in order to get out of the situation. These are signs that a child may need professional help with their worries.
It is very normal for children with anxiety disorder to complain that they don’t feel well. Complaining of physical symptoms is also a great way for many anxious kids to avoid their feared situations. However, kids aren’t lying or being dramatic when they say they don’t feel well—stress can have a huge impact on the body and can make someone feel awful. Common symptoms of anxiety include headaches, nausea and GI problems, tingling or numbness in extremities, difficulty sleeping, hot flashes, shortness of breath and more. If your child is regularly experiencing physical discomfort around a situation that makes them nervous, it may be time to get them some help.
Fear and worry are normal. They’re even healthy for us! However, if you notice that your child is showing these signs of anxiety disorders it may be time to find professional help. Anxiety is a common disorder and highly treatable. Oasis Springs Children's Counseling is here to help. Click below to book your child's appointment or call us at 719-407-2093.