Types of anxiety that children suffer from and what parents can do about it
We have a tendency to treat stuff, kids go through as life’s phase and not give it too much importance. However, at times it can be a serious life stage. If you just reflect on some of the things we are dealing with today or going through, it can be connected back to our childhood so maybe it is good learning to go a bit deeper into what a child is going through. One such thing is ‘anxiety’.
When we see distinct behavior such as magnified fear, isolation, unnatural behavior or complete disinterest from activities to name a few – maybe it is time for us to be alert and it could be anxiety.
What are the different kinds of anxiety kids face?
- General Anxiety Behavior (GAB): When a kid generally worries about almost everything. Some of them are things that one wonders there is nothing to worry about such as birthday parties, recess, lunchtime, playtime with friends, weekend outings. It can even be extended to war, future, weather or family members. This makes it hard for the kid to function – with regular school routine sleeping well, eating right so on and so forth.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: This is common for babies but if this sustains for a long period then the kid has separation anxiety from parents. They cling to parents and even miss school for days or get upset if their folks aren’t around. The fear of loss and death is high.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: This is when kids have anxiety interacting with peers or being around other kids and people. They have self-doubts and feel they might say something wrong or people will laugh at them or they will embarrass themselves. They don’t like attention on them and have group projects that cause anxiety. They won’t usually put their hands up to answer and might also want to miss kids’ birthday parties etc.
- Selective Mutism: Kids with selective mutism can talk as they do very freely at home and in their comfort zone but just choose to not in other environments. This causes unnatural behavior.
- Specific Phobia: This is quite clear. They have a phobia of a certain thing – dog or dark places or needles or people in costumes. Well, kids do fear these things but when it is extreme then they avoid any place they think they might encounter this. For eg, if they think there could be a dog in their friend’s place then they won’t go.
Anxieties happen due to many reasons such as genetics, brain chemistry (when some brain chemicals are in short supply), life situations and learned behavior (from another member of the family or kid). However, all of these can be coped with and we just need to first accept that the kid could have an anxiety disorder.
Steps to cope with them are as follows:
- Firstly accept and be aware: Most important because it is okay and it is not life-threatening at all. The worst thing we can do is be in denial.
- Find the right therapist: This will help in knowing everything we need to know and create the right team to help the kid get out of the anxiety.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy: This gets into understanding the behavior of the kid, making him or her face fears and also involving the parent to help face the fear.
- Work with the kid: To acknowledge, give confidence and take steps to overcome it
- Crowd out: The power of holistic healing is underestimated but get the kid into yoga, meditation, gratitude practice, breathing. It is the best gift you can give your child.
- Have patience: It takes time and love to heal a kid from this phase. So prepare yourself to be more patient with the child through this life stage
As we move into a fast-paced world, we sometimes are so caught up in our day to day life that we could miss the signs. It can happen to the best of us. So be aware and be accepting that this can happen and it is reversible. Nothing is lost and anxiety disorder can be solved.
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