Anxiety is a widespread issue among school age children and adolescents, more so now than ever before.  In fact, nearly 1 in 3 children will develop anxiety symptoms through the course of their development. This debilitating and often misdiagnosed condition can impact every part of a child’s day. Research shows that anxiety left untreated has a higher likelihood of a child’s poor performance in school, engaging in substance abuse, and missing out on important social experiences. Anxiety can mask itself, and manifest in many different ways leading to all sorts of challenges and issues. The positive part about anxiety is that the disorder is treatable and manageable. The first step is understanding what anxiety looks like and how it typically masks itself in children and adolescents. This article will help you recognize signs and symptoms of anxiety in your child.

What does typical worrying look like in children?

Being anxious and having an anxiety disorder are two very different things. Being worried is very normal. Upcoming tests, doctor’s appointments, peer relationships, and meeting parents’ expectations can cause some anxious moments. We’ve all been there, and usually come through it just fine. The main difference between normal worrying and having a true anxiety disorder is that normal worrying goes away. Anxiety disorders change a person’s ability to cope with stressors on a day to day basis.

9 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Children:

Here are some indications that your child or adolescent has a diagnosable anxiety issue.

These signs and symptoms affect daily life, and are consistent or get more severe over time. In addition, a child may not have all of these symptoms and the diagnosable criteria is usually just having one. Often times, many or most of these symptoms are present in some regard.

  1. Worrying about things that are not that important or significant, or worrying about things before they happen
    • Is your child worried about things that do not really matter or result in any kind of problem or danger? Is your child constantly worried about what will happen next?
  2. Fear of social situations or social anxiety
    • Is your child worried about school, friends, activities and families? Or does your child avoid social situations?
  3. Disproportionate anger
    • Does your child lash out or become angry at seemingly non-important things? Does the anger seem to fit the situation?
  4. Depression
    • Does your child appear depressed or sad for extended periods of time? Does your child struggle with self-esteem and/or self-worth? Do they tend to question themselves?
  5. Looking at the down side of things
    • Is your child frequently pessimistic; always looking at the bad rather than recognizing the good? Is there fear regarding making mistakes?
  6. Procrastination
    • Does your child wait until the last minute to complete things?
  7. Frustration
    • Is your child getting frustrated too easily? Does your child exhibit repetitive/unwanted thoughts or actions?
  8. Behavioral problems
    • Is your child getting in trouble or causing problems that seem unlike them? Do you feel that you child can cope adequately?
  9. Sleep issues
    • Does your child have difficulty falling or staying asleep at night?

What if you answer yes to any of the above?

You know your child better than anyone else, and are probably already attuned to when something is off. If you answered yes to the questions above, your child may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. As discussed above, in order for there to be a diagnosis, these issues must be prevalent over time, and effect daily life. Getting properly diagnosed, and receiving proper treatment can help your child and entire family overcome this challenge. You are not alone. The team at Calming Waters Counseling Services have extensive expertise in this area and are a great choice to begin the process.