How does anxiety manifest in children? Is it the same picture as in adults? Next, we describe the most common symptoms, both physical, psychological, and cognitive.
What are the common symptoms of anxiety in children? Anxiety is defined as a state of internal tension, restlessness, and disturbance of mood. It also implies anguish and a feeling of loss of control. We can all suffer and do suffer from, anxiety at some point in our lives: children, adults, and the elderly.
In the case of children, how does this anxiety manifest itself? Why does it arise? Let’s find out.
Anxiety disorder vs. anxiety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC (USA), when children do not overcome the typical fears and worries of their age, they can find themselves facing an anxiety disorder. Also, when those fears and worries interfere with your daily activities or well-being.
However, having an anxiety disorder is not the same as having symptoms of anxiety or anxiety in general. In the first case, we speak of a set of predetermined symptoms, which follow a pattern and cause significant discomfort. Furthermore, disorders have duration criteria and require specific intervention.
On the other hand, anxiety is a more generic term that can have its origin in a specific cause, in specific circumstances or in normative elements characteristic of a certain life stage (in this case, children; for example, the beginning of schooling). An anxiety disorder is usually more serious than suffering from anxiety in general.
Common Anxiety Symptoms in Children
In reality, common symptoms of anxiety in children are similar to those in adults. What can vary more is the form of manifestation of the symptoms or how they experience them.
For example, this anxiety can translate into uncontrolled crying because they do not know how to manage it, setbacks in development, decreased school performance, “new” fears, and so on.
But what are the most common symptoms and how can children manifest them? We talk about some of them.
The child may manifest difficulties when breathing. Thus, it is more difficult for you to breathe slowly or slowly.
In this way, breathing becomes faster and more clumsy. There are children who can hyperventilate, or even become dizzy.
Another common anxiety symptom in children is stomach pain. Keep in mind that the stomach is the receptor of a good number of nerve endings and that, if we suffer from nerves, it can suffer.
Anxiety not only affects the physical area of our body, but also the cognitive one. Children with anxiety can manifest alterations in concentration: it is more difficult for them to concentrate, ending up weighing down their ability to assimilate new content, which in turn will manifest itself in school performance.
In relation to this last point, according to a study by Jadue (2001), published in Pedagogical Studies, there are some characteristics of the school system that can originate or intensify anxiety in children. Factors that would increase the number of students at risk of poor performance and failure in school.
Another symptom of anxiety in children is excessive worry. This arises, especially, in children who are very demanding with themselves, very perfectionists.
Alterations in self-esteem
Due to anxiety, or rather, to its mismanagement, alterations in self-esteem (poor or low self-esteem) can also arise. For example, a child who suffers from panic attacks and who does not understand why may think that something strange is happening, that it is “strange” or different, that something is not right with him …
Muscle tension is another anxiety symptom in children. Thus, the muscles seize and tense.
Dizziness is also a symptom of anxiety in childhood. Thus, the child, by not being able to breathe well, causes his brain to suffer an oxygen deficit, which would cause dizziness.
Sensitivity or irritability
Increased sensitivity (which can lead to irritability) can also be another common anxiety symptom in children. Thus, they can get angry or cry about anything, with a lack of control in their emotions.
Causes of anxiety in childhood
The causes of anxiety in children, as in adults, can be multiple. Some of them are the following:
- Beginning of schooling.
- Being bullied .
- Personality type or temperament.
- Living in violent situations at home.
- Having suffered abuse.
- Parental divorce.
- Significant losses (for example, the death of a pet , a loved one …).
- Change of city or school.
The importance of helping the child express himself
As we have seen, common symptoms of anxiety in children include those that are physical (eg, muscle tension), psychological (low self-esteem), and cognitive (concentration difficulties). It is important to help children express these symptoms because, in childhood, this is sometimes not so easy to detect.
Consulting with a child psychologist is the best measure we can take in these cases. No one better than him to assess the importance of what is happening and the measures taken to reduce precisely that level of anxiety