The COVID-19 pandemic may have created an increased sense of stress, isolation, and anxiety in children and teens. Your child might be struggling with anxiety if they have exhibited the following behaviors:
- Fussiness and irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Increased tantrums or spurts of intense emotions
- Conflict and aggression during play
There are different kinds of anxiety disorders that can affect children and teens: generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and selective mutism. Fortunately, there are ways we can help our children cope with, understand, and overcome anxiety.
It’s important to remember anxiety can stem from many different things, like genetics, brain chemistry, life situations, and learn behaviors, so it’s always wise to reach out to a trained professional for a definitive diagnosis and advice for addressing your child’s situation.
Common Signs of Anxiety in Children
While signs of anxiety may not be easily picked up on, there are some that can be quickly identified.
Some common signs of anxiety in children include:
- Somatic symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
- Refusing to go to school
- Emotional meltdowns
- Difficulties with transitions during activities (school, hobbies, etc)
- Debilitating perfectionism in school or extracurricular activities
Supporting Your Child
The first thing you should consider doing to support your child in their mental health journey is taking your child to talk with a trained and reputable therapist. They will be able to talk and listen to what your child says and will know the best way to offer help with the various aspects of anxiety and anxiety disorders.
A licensed therapist can give you guidance on ways to best support your child and help them build resilience. Some may need more time and space to express their feelings, while some may do better with gradual conversations and other activities besides talking, such as painting or drawing to express themselves.
There are also ways you can help your child alongside seeking professional help.
- Anticipate situations that may cause anxiety for your child
- Gradually expose your child to the cause of his or her anxiety. This can help to ease the situation.
- Try not to avoid anxiety-causing situations as this is usually not a long-term solution.
- Do not downplay your child’s anxiety. Be self-aware about how you’re reacting to it. You mean well, but there could be a circumstance where your reaction is still making things worse for your child.
- Make sure that your own needs are met. Taking care of your own mental health reduces the risk of anxiety disorders in children as they grow older.
Other suggestions to help kids cope with anxiety:
- Practicing relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation
- Having them write down their worries and anxious feelings
- Teaching them to “talk back” to anxious thoughts, which ultimately helps give them control over the situation
Our classes and programs are designed to offer all kids great benefits, including helping kids who are experiencing anxiety overcome their fears. Shy, introverted children gain self-confidence and are able to express themselves more fluently through our drama activities. They learn to relax and interact more easily with others, thus paving the way to a happier, more fulfilling life. Energetic extroverts learn the importance of being able to focus their energy and enthusiasm in controlled situations and put their best foot forward.