Anxiety in Children
As adults, we may assume we understand anxiety and what it looks like. Often times though in children, anxiety looks different. Below are some symptoms of anxiety you may see in children. I'll also explain more about a few of the symptoms that I see most often.
Physical Symptoms (headaches, GI Symptoms, nail bitting, eyelash or hair pulling etc)
With kids you often see anger first. You may think their behavior is unacceptable and disrespectful (and maybe it is) but what if there is more underneath that anger? What if anger is the only emotion they can display and so every thing comes out the same, even if it has different causes. This is common with anxiety in children. The term "chandeliering" refers to emotional outbursts that seem to be from nowhere. I describe this to my kids in session as having a volcano inside them. Sometimes we even draw our volcano out on paper. As that volcano fills up with lava (the emotions, the bad things that happen, the stress in your life) your volcano eventually erupts and it can make a huge mess! Kids often don't have the emotional intelligence or coping skills to deal with their own lava and so it explodes in anger. They need to learn ways to drain the lava.
I also see kids with anxiety have excessive questioning and over planning. Maybe you are planning the family vacation this summer and your child has a ton of questions! Everything from what you will do each day, to what you will eat, where you will sleep, what they will pack etc. This can be a sign of anxiety. The answers to these questions provide a sense of relief and control for them with the unknown, even of an event that is typically exciting like a vacation!
Anxiety can also be misdiagnosed as ADHD in children. When your brain and your volcano is full, then you will have difficulty focusing, difficult remembering things and may appear inattentive. Anxiety can also take on physical illnesses so if your child complains of frequent headaches, stomach aches, low energy etc and your Pediatrician has cleared them of any medical issues, then perhaps you should consider if your child is anxious.
If you are unsure, give the office a call. We offer free phone consultations and I am happy to explore more with you what you see. You can also start at the Pediatricians office to rule out any medical issues.