Many times, anxiety is a temporary feeling that passes once a situation changes. Children also learn ways to manage daily anxiety effectively over time.
But how can parents recognize red flags for when there might be a bigger issue to tackle?
How Do We Know When Kids Are Anxious?
There are both cognitive and physical symptoms of anxiety. Cognitive symptoms are more difficult to detect because they are not as easy to see.
Some common symptoms in children include:
- Expressing worry in the days, weeks or months ahead of a planned event.
- Consistent avoidance of typical activities.
- Irritability in stressful situations.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Frequent "what if" questions about potential danger.
- Need for constant reassurance from parent
Anxiety Warning Signs
- Excessive distress which is out of proportion with the situation such as crying, anger, hopelessness or sadness.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach pain or shaking/trembling, which interfere with normal activity
- Persistent sleep problems, nightmares or refusal to sleep alone
- Refusing to participate in social activities
- Family functioning is disrupted to avoid causing anxiety or distress to the child
- Extreme negative responses to a particular object or event
- Spending excessive time consoling or reasoning with a child about ordinary situations
If you notice any of these signs, talk with your child(ren) about their experience to get a better understanding. It also might be time to talk with their pediatrician, someone at their school or a mental health professional. There are scientifically proven and effective treatments for children who experience anxiety disorders.