Parenting can be challenging, especially when it comes to identifying which feelings and emotions are rooted in anxiety and which are part of being a normal kid. A child's anxiety symptoms may appear like defiance or bad behaviour, so it is important to uncover what is going on for them under the surface in order to know how to respond appropriately.
Firstly, you know your child best. There are a few symptoms to watch for, but they do not necessarily indicate that your child has anxiety. We are all built differently and there is no such thing as "normal". Be on the lookout for changes in your child's emotional state, behaviour, and attitude. Identifying developmental stages from anxiety can be difficult as children grow out of phases or interests. But, when in doubt and you are really unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional like your paediatrician or a child therapist.
One of the tricky things about anxiety is that it can manifest in unexpected ways, and we can easily be challenged, or get frustrated by, or provide consequences (or even rewards) for behaviours that are driven by anxiety. Therefore it is important we do not add fuel to an already anxious child's fire can make things worse. So, let's take a look at some symptoms that are indicative of anxiety in your child.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, normally about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
You may have also heard of "flight-flight-freeze" mode. Observing your child’s behaviour in relation to these stress responses can help you see your child’s behaviour in a new light and identify the trigger. For example, what feels like deviant behaviour, like not wanting to get ready for school, might be your child going into flight mode because something is making them nervous about going to school.
Here are some triggers and symptoms:
- Running Away/Hiding - This could include hiding in a wardrobe or running away from a certain building (e.g. the doctors).
- Physical Symptoms - Upset stomach, shaking or headaches.
- Clinginess - You, as the parent are a home base for your child. You are a source of comfort for them and they regulate their emotions by being close to you. However, watch out for them being more clingy than usual for an extended period of time.
- Questioning Everything - A child who is anxious will often ask a lot of questions to try and mentally cope with the situation and feel in control.
- Avoidance - "No. I'm not going" or "You can't make me" is another coping mechanism to try and gain some control of a situation.
- Seeing Validation - Particularly with children who are not confident within themselves and question if they are good enough or not.
- Anger - This is often a stress response in an anxious child.
- Heightened Emotions - Emotional responses that go into 'overdrive'.
- Lack of Focus - A child’s performance at school or after school clubs can be a sign to watch for. Especially if you receive feedback from a teacher that your child is not as engaged or is performing poorly.
- Self-Soothing - Close attachment to a blanket, toy or object to help them regulate their emotions.
- Isolation - Child may withdraw, go into social isolation or be unwilling to participate in formerly enjoyed experiences.
- Nightmares or Sleeping Issues - Anxiety may manifest in the child's dreams, or they may be too worried about an event which prevents them falling asleep, or they want to sleep too much to avoid the anxiety.
- Eating Habits - "I'm not hungry" or binge eating can be a major sign to look out for, as these can be ways for the anxious child to feel in control or to self-soothe.
- Negative Self Talk - Your child says things such as "I'm so stupid" or they start to comment on their own body image.
- Loosing interest in hobbies or activities - Anxiety can stop them enjoying something that they once found fun or loved to do.
Always remember, knowledge is power. Having awareness of these symptoms can help you approach your child with empathy and provide them with tools that can help reduce their anxiety. Creating a loving, trusting, safe space for them to talk about what’s going on with them can make a big impact. And practicing self-compassion for yourself can provide the role model they need for a healthy mindset. If you are looking for more tools for helping your anxious child, hypnotherapy is an amazing tool to help them be more in control and get rid of anxiety all together.
How can hypnotherapy help my child?
Hypnosis opens the door to lasting change by going straight to the source of the problem and reframing their entire mind on a subconscious level. Imagine what it would be like for your child to be free from anxiety, stress and worry. Hypnotherapy helps to ‘program’ the subconscious mind to relax and see things more clearly, but there is no medication involved and the child is completely in control at all times. All they need is a quiet, dark room with no distractions to listen to the audios.
If you think your child will benefit from our hypnotherapy audios, please see the link below. Ifr you have any questions, you can send us an email to email@example.com