Symptoms of childhood anxiety are often ignored. Why? Because anxiety is such a common thing! Such a normal reaction of our bodies and minds to anything threatening or dangerous. But, too much anxiety is not a natural human response and even though we all feel anxious at some point in time in our lives, an exaggerated form, however, can be dangerous. For example, a major presentation in front of the entire class, exam tension, stage performance so on and so forth, is it quite human to feel butterflies in your stomach.
Moreover, a little bit of anxiety is always good as it acts as an alert system or a watch glass and helps you in focusing and improving your performance. But the same anxiety, if it gets too overwhelming can be detrimental for one’s mental health and over being. So, the question is how to know that normal anxiety has turned into an anxiety disorder. Well, this is the toughest part as there is no instrument to gauge it. It is only through sheer observation and intelligence.
A lot of people think that a child is free from anxiety. That’s absolutely wrong. Anxiety can happen to anyone irrespective of age or anything.
The very next thing that might be cropping in your mind is what exactly causes anxiety? Well, there are several factors that play a role and not just anyone particular instance. It could be a stressful environment, brain biochemistry, genetics, and learned behavior.
Anxiety disorders can be categorized into different types like generalized anxiety, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), separation anxiety disorder (these generally happen to kids whose parents have separated, they feel emotionally torn), panic attacks, phobias (like social phobia- that is being afraid of socializing with others, acting indifferently in class, they worry of seeking attention thinking that they might be ridiculed and always want to stay aloof), selective mutism- in this kids are afraid to talk in class, with friends or any place where they are afraid of.
Other than stomach aches there are various other hidden symptoms of anxiety-like dizziness, pulling out hair stand, nightmares, clinging to parents, vomiting, crying, hot face, shortness of breath, gloomy mood, nervousness, fidgeting, clammy hands, refusing to eat or talk are few of the symptoms which can help parents to detect that the child is undergoing an anxiety disorder.
As a parent, it is very painful and exhausting to see your child suffering like this, but please don’t lose heart and remain strong.
5 Ways you can help your child in overcoming symptoms of childhood anxiety and fear:
1. Talk to your child cause there’s something bothering them
Listen to them patiently. Don’t be rude to them try to comfort them by sharing your own life experiences. Try to provide them with a solution for eg. if it is about a stage performance that is bothering them tell them that they only need to practice and focus once they are absolutely prepared they won’t feel the tension of failing or being ridiculed. Tell them that you love them and you are proud of him/her. And even if they fail, that’s okay because failure is the pillar of success. Tell them that you will always be with them no matter what.
2. Consult a doctor if the feelings are very intense
As a parent, if you feel that your encouraging words and actions are doing no good to your child. Please don’t feel shy to visit the health professional. Consult a therapist and also get a body checkup done. Sometimes physical ailments can trigger anxiety.
3. Try to spend quality time with your child
This is a great way to bond and it also helps your child to get rid of the bad and negative thoughts that may give rise to anxiety. Try to engage your child in a hobby of his/ her choice. Go out for a walk, play together, cook together, go for a short trip or hiking.
4. Proper nutrition and adequate amount of sleep
Healthy and nutritional food gives your body the proper fuel to work the whole day, similarly, proper sleep helps your mind to relax and you wake up feeling rejuvenated. Moreover, children need proper sleep because it not only helps in cognitive development but also helps in improving performance, boosts learning, fights obesity and promotes growth.
5. Yoga or any regular exercise
This ancient practice inspired by Hindu philosophy is not only restricted to physical well being but soothes and relaxes both your body and mind in a holistic way. Various breathing techniques, asanas, physical postures, and meditation helps in relaxation thereby lowering the anxiety level in your brain.
by Suditsha Sanyal