By: Dr. Liz Matheis
Anxiety. It’s something we all feel. In fact, it’s normal to feel anxious. It’s our body’s way of letting us know that something is unsafe or harmful. It’s our body’s way of revving up our energy supply so that we can run or hide or think quickly on our feet. But what happens when that anxiety is something that you feel often, like every day? And it can sometimes, or all the time, get in the way of what you or your children want to do? Then, it’s a problem.
What Does Anxiety Really Look Like with Children and Adolescents?
With children and adolescents, anxiety isn’t necessarily pacing or writhing your hands. It can look different. It can actually be confusing. What you might see is:
Children who are anxious don’t always know that they feel anxious. They just know that they don’t like how they feel, they don’t know how to make it stop, and so they let you know how children know how to by. Instead, it’s very easy for parents and teachers to interpret anxious behaviors as negative behaviors and to want to create a behavioral plan or chart.
My mantra is: No Child Wakes Up and Decides to Be Behavioral. That’s not how it works. Instead, when you, as the parent, begin to notice a change in behaviors, that’s when your antennae should perk up. Instead of ‘fighting’ back, I recommend that you let your child know that you know something is different and to make yourself available as a parent to listen and sympathize.
Here are some signs to look for that may be a sign of anxiety and emotional struggle:
It’s very easy as a parent to think that your child has a behavioral problem, an Oppositional Defiance Disorder even. However, look closer. There’s a strong likelihood that your child is anxious, very anxious.
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Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles