I have always suffered from anxiety and I saw the signs in my daughter early and was able to help her learn ways to cope. As a parent, it often involves trusting our gut even if we don’t want to.
Everything from nail biting to hair pulling can be a sign of anxiety in a child. These do not have to be anything extreme, although hair pulling can lead to bald spots if the child is experiencing major anxiety, they are some form of repetitive body behaviors that don’t seem to make sense for the child. Other examples of repetitive body behaviors could be skin biting or joint cracking.
A child with anxiety may experience a lot of signs of OCD. This could be an extreme fear of something, an extreme need or desire to have everything in order, organized and symmetric. A child with anxiety who has OCD could experience aggressive thoughts or have intrusive sounds or words.
A child who is suffering from anxiety will have obvious signs of anxiety in certain situations. Separation anxiety may be common when you’re first bringing your child to a babysitter or school, but over time children adapt and get used to being cared for by another person or being at school. A child who has anxiety may never get used to that separation from their parent, so they have continuous meltdowns over that separation.
A child who has anxiety may have a difficult time falling asleep due to the fact that their minds are continuously worrying about something. Even children who suffer from anxiety have overthinking tendencies, but they just don’t express them as verbally as adults do. A child who has trouble drifting off to sleep no matter how routine their bedtime ritual is, they still struggle with shutting off their minds and falling asleep. Even as an adult, this is often how my anxiety manifests itself.
These are just a handful of the signs of anxiety in a child. Every child will be different in how they showcase their anxious symptoms because every child has their own triggers that onset anxious feelings or symptoms. This list should give you a general idea of whether or not your child may have anxiety so that you can seek advice from a professional who specializes in anxiety with children. Not sure where to turn? Always bring your concerns to your child’s pediatrician. If you feel like they don’t have the right answers you can always seek a second opinion.
As a parent, trusting your gut is a huge part of parenting. Getting your child help early is always an important part of treatment. Just remember, you are not alone.
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