Supporting Children With Anxiety Disorders – Icebergs are deceiving because what you see on the surface is often only a small fraction of what is seen underneath. Observing the behavior of an anxious child is sometimes like looking at the tip of the iceberg: Beneath the anxious behavior are layers of emotions and experiences. Therapists often illustrate this idea with an image like this:
While the image above is enlightening, there is a huge assumption that parents can actually recognize this tip of the iceberg, or look at a child’s behavior and say, “Yeah, that’s anxiety .” The truth is that anxious behavior in children is not uniform.
Supporting Children With Anxiety Disorders
Your child may ask repetitive questions for reassurance, and no matter how many times you answer, the question will be repeated. You may have a perfect child at school who comes home and constantly fights with you or your siblings. You may have a child who can’t focus, is unmotivated, or even has sleepless nights. Or maybe your child is angry at everything. In fact, anxiety can appear in many different forms. In our studies on !, we see that anxiety comes out in 8 different ways. This makes the iceberg look more like this:
School Anxiety And Refusal
Anxiety and sleep problems have a connection with the chicken and the egg. Research has shown that anxiety can lead to sleep disorders, and chronic sleep disruption can lead to anxiety. Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is one of the most prominent features of anxiety in children. For many children, a cascade of anxious thoughts keeps them awake long after they should be asleep. Others worry about sleeping, thinking they will miss the alarm or be tired in the morning.
The connection between anger and anxiety is an unresearched area, but in our study the manifestation of anger in anxious children is clear. Here are some hypotheses as to why there is a connection. Anxiety occurs when a perceived threat (eg, a test or a party) is overestimated and coping skills (eg, “I can’t handle this.”) are underestimated. When our children become chronically and excessively anxious and feel they lack the skills to manage anxiety, they feel helpless. Helplessness leads to frustration, which can manifest as anger.
Anger and anxiety are also activated in the threat center of the brain. When the brain senses a threat, the amygdala (a small almond-shaped cluster of neurons in the brain) activates the flight or fight response, which floods your body with hormones that make you more stronger and faster. This genetic wisdom protects us from threats and dangers. Because anger and anxiety are activated by the same area of the brain and have similar physiological patterns (rapid breathing, heartbeat, dilated pupils, etc.), it is likely that when the child your feel that there is a threat (like going to a party, for example). The fight or anger response is activated as a form of protection.
Finally, one marker of generalized anxiety is “irritability”, which is part of the anger family.
School Anxiety: Autistic Children & Teens
There is nothing more frustrating for an anxious child than feeling like their life is out of control. They try to take back control, often in unexpected and strange ways, as a way to feel safe and comfortable. For example, a child who is already experiencing a rush of stress hormones while getting ready for bed gets angry when given an orange cup instead of a blue one. Because he cannot explain what is really happening, it is easy to interpret the child’s challenge as a lack of discipline rather than an attempt to control a situation in which he feels anxious and powerless.
To borrow a term from the famous social scientist Brené Brown, chapeling is when a seemingly calm person suddenly becomes agitated for no reason. In reality, they push the pain and anxiety deep down until a seemingly innocent comment or event sends them suddenly into the sky. A child who goes from a calm state to a full-blown tantrum for no reason is often ill-equipped to talk about his anxiety and instead tries to hide it. After appearing “normal” for days or even weeks, these children suddenly reach a point where they can no longer hide their anxious feelings and react disproportionately to anything that triggers their anxiety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 6.1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Past research has suggested that ADHD and anxiety often go hand in hand. However, studies have shown that children with anxiety do not necessarily experience ADHD more often. Instead, these two conditions have overlapping symptoms; Lack of focus and lack of attention are two of them. Anxious children are often so caught up in their own thoughts that they don’t pay attention to what is going on around them. This is especially troublesome at school, where they are expected to attend to the teacher for hours.
As humans, we tend to avoid things that are stressful or worrying. These avoidance behaviors occur in two ways; do’s and don’ts. If you are trying to avoid getting sick, you can (do) wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day. If you are avoiding a person who makes you uncomfortable, you can (not) skip a party or a meeting. The only problem with avoidance is that it often snowballs. Children who try to avoid a particular person, place, or task often end up experiencing more of the thing they are avoiding. If the source of the child’s anxiety is schoolwork, they will go out of their way to avoid it and have to do more to make up for what they lost in the process. They have also spent time and energy trying to avoid it in the process, which ultimately makes it a greater source of anxiety.
Anxiety — Gheorg Blog With News & Stories To Support Kids With Anxiety — Gheorg
From a neurological perspective, anxious people tend to experience negative thoughts much more intensely than positive ones. As a result, negative thoughts settle more quickly and easily than positive ones, making someone with anxiety appear to be in a bad mood all the time. Anxious children are particularly susceptible to these patterns because they have not yet developed the ability to recognize negative thinking and reverse it with positive self-talk.
Over-planning and challenge go hand in hand in their root causes. Anxiety can cause some children to try to take back control through defiant behavior, while others can cause others to over-plan for situations where planning is minimal or unnecessary. An anxious child invited to a friend’s birthday party may not only plan what to wear and what gift to buy, but may also ask questions such as who else will be there, what will they do, when the parents his will pick him up, etc. on. what to do if someone at the party has allergies, who to call if they are nervous or uncomfortable, who to talk to during the party… Being prepared for every possibility is one way for an anxious child to control anxiety uncontrollable situation.
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Helping Children Gain Control Over An Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety in children means that the child worries or experiences fear or anxiety when being away from (or separated from) family members or other people with whom they have a close relationship.
When it comes to separation anxiety specifically, almost all children between the ages of 18 months and 3 years have separation anxiety and they cling to some degree, according to Cedars Sinai.
Severe separation anxiety refers to separation anxiety as a disorder, but it can be serious and debilitating. As a disorder in children, symptoms of separation anxiety often begin to appear between the ages of 7 and 11.
Depending on the severity of the anxiety and the symptoms, there are different things you can do to help children with separation anxiety.
How To Handle Anxiety In Kids
The doctor should be able to make specific recommendations depending on the severity and type of symptoms your child is experiencing. They can also help determine if the child’s anxiety is severe and a sign of separation anxiety disorder. In this case, they can help recommend other treatments, therapies or medications.
Help support them as much as you can and reassurance can help reduce separation anxiety. Therapists may have more personalized suggestions about what support and reassurance you can give them, but consider doing things that make them more comfortable or ease the anxiety they experience when they leave.
Part of the help to support and secure the child