While all children get anxious from time to time, when it happens frequently and affects their schoolwork, relationships, and overall happiness, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. The CDC reports that 7.1 percent of children have diagnosed anxiety in the U.S. and cases are increasing every year.1 For many children, anxiety co-occurs with other mental health conditions like depression, ADHD, and behavior problems. Early intervention is crucial, as experts say that when anxiety is ignored, it can affect grades, academic performance, social and interpersonal skills, and life outcomes.2 The longer one waits, the more vulnerable a person is for developing depression and even substance-use problems later in life.
If you suspect your child may have anxiety, find out what early signs you should look for, common symptoms they may have, and lastly, how to help your anxious child succeed.
First Signs of Anxiety in Toddlers
From monsters under the bed to missing Mom and Dad, some anxiety in toddlers comes with the territory of being in a new and unfamiliar world. They may become anxious about moving or starting preschool. Or they may notice people around them being anxious and model their behavior. Research shows that 10 percent of children ages two to five show signs of an anxiety disorder.3 If your child’s fears seem to be out of proportion to a situation or when they persist to the point of disrupting their life, it may be time to step in and help.
Some early signs of anxiety in toddlers include:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Trembling or shaking
- Being overly sensitive
- Frequent meltdowns or tantrums
- Changes in eating habits
- Repetitive behaviors
Anxiety Symptoms in Children 5-10
From finding it difficult to concentrate to not eating properly, there are many other anxiety symptoms to monitor in older children. Triggered by such normal events as going to school, taking a test, attending a birthday party, or going to the doctor, this anxiety may seem like shyness, or maybe defiance, at first. But when anxiety occurs frequently, it can cause extreme distress.
Signs of anxiety in children aged five to 10 include:
- Finding it difficult to concentrate: While some children with anxiety also have ADHD, an inability to concentrate doesn’t necessarily mean they have an attention disorder. Younger children with separation anxiety may be distracted by thoughts of something bad happening to their parents, while older kids struggling with perfectionism might worry about making mistakes.
- Poor sleep: Younger children are often afraid of sleeping away from their parents due to a fear of the dark or nightmares. Older children may not be able to fall asleep due to worries about the day. Some might even fear not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Low frustration tolerance: Kids with anxiety are often quick to anger or irritability, especially when they feel like they can’t escape an overwhelming situation. In some cases, children will give up on tasks without really trying at the first sign of frustration.
- Poor eating habits: Many anxious kids lose their appetite, sometimes due to stomach aches caused by their anxiety. A loss of appetite may result in low food intake, leading the child to be underweight and/or lethargic. Other children may respond to their anxiety and stress by overeating.
- Frequent outbursts: While occasional tantrums are common in younger children, kids often outgrow them by kindergarten. If your child is anxious, they may try to hide their emotions by disrupting the class or lashing out.
- Headaches and tummy aches: What might seem like a stomach bug or some other illness may actually just be anxiety. You might notice a pattern of your child suddenly feeling unwell before a triggering situation like a test or athletic event.
How to Help Your Anxious Child
When a child is struggling with anxiety, there are many coping mechanisms that can help. While your doctor may suggest medication, most prescription drugs contain synthetic chemicals that are associated with side effects like headaches, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, nervousness, insomnia, and weight changes. These drugs often mask symptoms without addressing the root cause of them. A gentle alternative to prescription drugs is Brillia, a homeopathic medication that uniquely uses antibody ingredients to target symptoms of anxiety, stress, irritability, and impulsivity at the source, binding to the very proteins that instigate such symptoms and stopping them in their tracks. This is achieved without any harsh chemicals or harmful side effects, making Brillia safe and impactful for children as young as five. And if your child is already taking medication for their anxiety, Brillia safely added to their regimen because there are no contraindications. Taking Brillia is just one component to the holistic approach known as the Five Pillars, which outlines various lifestyle factors to ease anxiety, combining healthy living with antibody science for long-term success.
These healthy lifestyle factors include:
- Proper nutrition: Encourage your child to eat healthy food and steer clear of anxiety-provoking culprits like sugar, caffeine, and processed foods.
- Adequate sleep: Ensure your child gets enough sleep to regulate their mood and improve memory and concentration.
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques into their life, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and more.
- Controlled screen time: Limit your child’s screen time to reduce stress and promote calmness and face-to-face interaction.
While your child may be feeling anxious today, giving them a range of tools to help them feel calmer and more balanced will empower them to have a less anxious tomorrow. Find out more about how Brillia works and visit the Brillia blog for more resources on how to help your child cope with anxiety.
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