What is Anxiety, and How Can You Seek Treatment if You’re Feeling Anxious a Lot?
Anxiety, especially in children, can be as bewildering as a maze with invisible walls. The puzzling world of a child’s mind is completely different from what you know as an adult. So, let’s uncover the signs and signals of anxiety that hide behind the facade of normal childhood fears.
From stomach aches with no clear cause to sudden shyness in once bubbly kids, understanding these markers is the first step in painting a clearer picture and plotting the course for support and care.
What is Anxiety, and How Does it Manifest in Kids?
In simpler terms, anxiety is like an alarm that goes off inside us when we’re worried about something that might happen. It’s a normal feeling, but sometimes it can get really loud, especially for kids.
Even more, kids don’t usually have the words to explain how they feel. Instead, they act out or choose a different way to show they’re anxious.
Some children will show an overwhelming amount of worry about their family or school. Others may say their tummy or head hurts a lot, even though there’s no clear reason for it. Kids who are usually independent might suddenly not want to leave your side or may not want to go to school at all.
Since worry doesn’t take a break just because it’s dark and time for sleep, bedtime can become increasingly more difficult. Plus, it will affect the quality of sleep because anxiety is the enemy of nice dreams and good rest.
Another sign that your child may be suffering from anxiety is when they freeze up in public situations, but they are usually outgoing and extroverted. They may also have difficulties making friends or hanging out with others.
If your chatty kid becomes quiet and keeps to themselves more, this is a sign you should be paying attention to. Once you know something is the matter, you can start looking for ways to help them handle these tough feelings in ways that work specifically for them.
How to Seek Treatment
When your child is struggling with anxiety, it’s easy to feel helpless as a parent. However, the only way to help them get better and continue to have a happy childhood is to find the treatment that best suits their needs.
Start by talking with your child’s pediatrician. They are already familiar with your family history and are aware of any health issues your child may have. Bring up your concerns, and don’t leave out any details – every little observation could be crucial.
The pediatrician may recommend seeing a specialist in children’s mental health, such as a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Consider these professionals as experts who speak ‘child language’ fluently and unravel the mysteries of anxious thoughts.
Getting Therapy for Anxiety
Depending on the level of seriousness, the pediatrician may recommend a psychologist or a psychiatrist specializing in working with children. While these are both professionals who diagnose and treat mental illnesses, it’s a good idea to learn the differences between what a psychiatrist does and what a psychologist does.
For instance, only a psychiatrist can prescribe medication should they deem it necessary. Both professionals are licensed to provide therapy for their patients, and both can make recommendations regarding treatment.
Helping Your Child at Home
If your child’s pediatrician considers the anxiety can be managed at home, they will teach you a few calming strategies and methods.
Here are a few examples of such methods:
- Practice the art of conversation – make room for daily moments for open talks where your child can unload their fears without judgment.
- Encourage problem-solving – it’s like giving your child a superhero cape to face their battles. When they come to you with worries, resist the urge to swoop in and fix it all. Instead, ask guiding questions: “What can we do together when that worry pops up?” This method puts power back into their hands.
- Introduce them to deep breathing techniques – it’s akin to teaching them how to steady a rocking boat amidst stormy seas. Make it fun by pretending you’re blowing up balloons or cooling down hot soup with each breath.
- Visualization is key – ask them to picture their happy place, be it imagining sunshine in a favorite park or thinking about cuddling with a pet. It’s like creating an internal escape hatch from anxious thoughts.
Navigating your child’s anxiety is far from a straightforward journey, but with the right map in hand, you’re well-equipped to guide them through the twists and turns.
Whether it’s through therapy, heartfelt discussions, or soothing visualization exercises, there are tools at your disposal. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate treatment arms your child with the courage to face their fears and embrace a happier, less anxious life.