It can be hard to witness a child who is dealing with chronic anxiety; and, unfortunately, recent statistics indicate that the number of children experiencing anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms is on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 4.4 million of children in the U.S. had a diagnosed anxiety disorder in 2012, which was an increase from previous years. While anxiety might show up differently in every child, there are similar ways that parents and caregivers can respond to help ease the symptoms. By utilizing the strategies below, the goal is not to “fix” the source of stress, rather show children healthier, alternative behaviors to cope with anxiety.
Is Christmas the most joyful or most stressful time of the year for you? There seems to be an underlying pressure to please others and an expectation to be joyful at the same time. The reality is, you cannot please everyone; and you are the only one who has the power to allow yourself to actually enjoy this season. What is most important to you this time of year? Do you want to visit Santa, send out Christmas cards or attend a holiday party? Maybe you want to order takeout and not cook, or put up a Christmas tree but not Christmas lights. Prioritizing what is most important will help you say, “Yes” to what you genuinely want to do!Is it difficult for you to say “No” for fear of disappointment?
Anxiety is persistent and excessive worry or stress that can negatively make an impact on one or multiple areas of your life. Symptoms of anxiety are restlessness, fatigue, impaired concentration, irritability, or tension. Heart palpitations, tense muscles, and stomach problems are often common with anxiety. Although genetics play a role, many other factors contribute to the development of anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and is often quite functional and beneficial. For example, if I am driving and suddenly hear a horn and screeching tires, it is normal to experience a rush of fear that accompanies my body’s “fight or flight” response. I need my autonomic nervous system to kick in and cause me to hyper-focus on the situation to avoid danger. In these situations, anxiety is protective and necessary for survival.