We tend to believe that anxiety is only an adult thing, but there are many reasons why a child may feel anxious. Separation from their parents, a situation of bullying, parental divorce, moving house… or any stressful situation can trigger an anxiety disorder in children. But what are the signs of anxiety in children?
Sleeping problems or changes in appetite are some of the most common consequences, although there are others of a very diverse nature to which we must be attentive.
Let us remember that anxiety is a physiological response of adaptation to the environment in which various defense mechanisms come into play to face a situation that is perceived as threatening or of increased demand. The main symptoms of anxiety in children are:
Anxiety symptoms in children
- Sleeping problems
- Changes in appetite (eating little or profusely…)
- Disproportionate fears, phobias : parents not coming home, dying, going to school
- Inconsolable crying, especially among the little ones
- Headaches , muscle or abdominal pain
- motor restlessness
- Developmental setbacks , such as going back to wetting the bed when you had stopped, for example.
- Difficult to focus
- selective mutism
Parents must be alert to any of these symptoms, since combined with changing situations they can be signs of stress, and we must ensure that the child’s health does not suffer, minimizing the consequences as much as possible.
Fortunately, stressful situations are almost always temporary , associated with a high school load ( or extracurricular ), having to undergo a medical check-up, vaccinations, a trip… But if they are situations that last over time, their consequences can be more serious.
We must not minimize the consequences of anxiety, since, among other issues, it has been related to mental disorders in adulthood or an increase in asthma attacks .
Possible causes of anxiety in children
Anxiety is one of the symptoms of a stressful situation. As we have mentioned before, some of the most frequent reasons for childhood stress are the arrival of a new member in the family, the separation of parents , the change of house or school, the start of classes… In the case of preschool children, the anguish of being separated from their parents is very evident.
Possible cases of bullying at school, concern about the financial situation at home (perhaps it is better not to show your own parental anxiety, although you should not hide what is happening at home either) or family fights … are other situations that could cause anxiety in our children.
Also what happens around them, disturbing news on television, horror movies… can cause fear and stress, so you have to be aware of the information that reaches them (or rather the way in which it is transmits said information) and the type of entertainment, which must be appropriate to their age.
The death or illness of a loved one, or your own illness, are other factors that would lead to the appearance of anxiety.
Although with young children the pressures usually come from external sources (such as family, friends or school), when they grow up they can also arise from the person, from the demand on oneself (aggravated at the same time by external demands on them). ).
In cases in which the symptoms are perpetuated in the child or significantly affect their health, a specialist should be consulted, since there could be other physical factors involved. What you should not do is neglect these symptoms. You have to talk to the child when he already understands us, ask him about his feelings, let him express himself.
If the child and his family understand the origin of the problem, the anxiety will be closer to being controlled and overcome. We must prevent it from becoming chronic or from leading to more complicated processes, such as childhood depression.