Anxiety is one of the most common emotional difficulties that children and adolescents face. The presentation of symptoms could look very different depending on the child; therefore, parents may not always notice or understand their child’s behaviors or emotional states. Children and adolescents experiencing anxiety may also be misunderstood in the school environment due to the differing symptom presentation. It is common for anxious children to follow rules, complete their work well, and appear to pay attention in class. However, they may often withdraw from their peers, refuse to attend school when there is an exam or presentation, or complain about physical symptoms – such as, headaches and stomachaches. Perfectionistic tendencies that may often be praised due to excellent academic work, may also increase stress levels and self-critical thinking patterns.
When anxiety symptoms are left untreated, they may also lead to the development of depressive symptoms. Thinking patterns often become negative and it is common for children and adolescents to begin losing interest in activities they used to enjoy. Parents often complain of their children spending too much time on electronics; however, it is often a sign of withdrawal and avoidance in depressed and anxious youth. It is often easier to hide behind a screen and escape from their reality that tends to cause excessive worry and stress for them. Children and adolescents may also try to find other escapes that can turn into unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Signs your child may be anxious:
- Worries excessively about things they cannot control
- Has an emotional reaction when things don’t come out as they expected
- Avoids social situations and tends to isolate more in their bedroom
- No longer participates in activities they used to enjoy
- Makes self-criticizing comments
- Appetite changes
- Difficulties concentrating
- Frequent crying spells or behavioral outbursts
- Physical ailments (stomachaches, headaches, muscle tension)
What should I do if I notice my child is experiencing anxiety symptoms?
Finding a psychologist for your child to work with should be your first step if you notice your child is experiencing significant symptoms of anxiety. Research shows that untreated anxiety can impact individuals in all areas of their lives and can often lead to additional mental health concerns. A psychologist will also provide you with guidance to help your child better cope with their symptoms.
Please call Miami Psychology Group if you are interested in learning more about how psychotherapy services can benefit your child who may be struggling with anxiety. Qualified child and adolescent psychologists are currently accepting new patients in the Miami and Miami Beach area.