Is my child dealing with anxiety?
Signs and symptoms of anxiety in children and how to help your child manage it
Anxiety (as defined by the American Psychological Association) is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes such as increased blood pressure. Countless adults deal with anxiety every single day. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA) reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. According to their research, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Anxiety is something we adults know plenty about,…but did you know that many kids also experience anxiety? You may have concerns about whether or not your child feels anxious. Here are some things to be on the lookout for as a parent to determine if your child is dealing with anxiety.
Signs of Anxiety in Children
According to the AADA, warning signs of childhood anxiety include:
- Worrying excessively about grades, performance in sports and a variety of other things
- Generally being very hard on themselves
- Being perfectionists
- Seeking constant approval/reassurance from others
ADDitude Mag lists these common symptoms of generalized anxiety in children:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Fear of being alone
- Picking at skin
- Nail biting
- Strong startle response
- Being overly self-critical
- OCD-like behaviors (e.g. checking and rechecking the door to make sure it is locked or arranging objects “just so”)
- Suddenly avoiding social contact
- Frequent urination
- Common Symptoms of Genera
I think my child is dealing with anxiety, now what?
You may be seeing some symptoms of childhood anxiety manifesting in your child, or, maybe there are just one or two things that concern you right now. Regardless of what signs you’re noticing, you can help your child manage their anxiety right away with two simple approaches.
Breathe In, Breathe Out: Deep Breathing for Anxiety Relief in Children
Slowing down the breath is one of the most effective methods for easing anxiety in children. When your child takes in a slow, deep breath, her heart rate speeds up a bit. Then, as she slowly lets her breath out, her heart rate slows back down. Breathing slowly in and out repeatedly will bring her heart rate down and cause her brain to release endorphins which naturally calm her down and make her feel happier. It’s a beautiful, natural way to help ease her stress and anxiety (and yours, for that matter!).
Taking it Further – Meditation for Anxiety Relief in Children
To really get your child feeling a sense of calm and peace, having him do a short meditation can create a huge impact on his levels of stress and anxiety. According to research, including one study in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, meditation has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety. But just how you get your child to meditate and do it consistently? As with anything else you want your child to do, you have to make it fun and rewarding. With fun, game-like programs available on the App Store and Google Play Store like Ninja Focus – a digital mindfulness coach for kids – you put both of those things right in your child’s hands. Your child will love moving through the virtual world of Bunny Island, all the while earning rewards for short meditations, identifying emotions and learning to be more mindful.
Stress and anxiety are a part of life. It’s up to parents to model healthy stress management and give kids the tools they need to manage their own stress more effectively!