Increased anxiety in children and adolescents: what to do?

Excessive anxiety is a typical “adult” character trait. Traditionally, it is believed that babies should be as carefree and relaxed as possible, as it should be at their age. However, in fact, in recent years, a completely different trend has been observed: the child is prone to constant anxiety, and anxiety is his integral companion. This behavior often leads to the development of obsessive- compulsive disorders, phobias, anxious and suspicious character accentuations. How can you help your child cope with this condition?

What is heightened anxiety?

Increased anxiety is a complex of combined emotional, behavioral and cognitive reactions of the body that occurs in response to stress factors. Intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts, past traumatic experiences, certain situations can act as stressors . If anxiety is weakly expressed, it is customary to consider it as an individual personality trait, and when anxiety increases, as a mental disorder that requires intervention from specialists.  

It is known that the prevalence of this pathology among children and adolescents is about 2-5%. Girls are more likely to be anxious than boys. Development is based on the interaction of biological and psychological factors. Anxiety is a normal reaction of the human nervous system to potentially dangerous factors. The number of neurotransmitters in the body increases , and the brain creates a sense of fear and anxiety.

Reasons: Why do teens and toddlers behave this way?

Anxiety is the result of the interaction of both external and internal factors. Currently, it is customary to distinguish several main reasons:

  • Features of family education

Excessive stress and anxiety are often the result of a particular parenting style. Excessive parental requirements, a rude and tactless attitude towards a child, frequent quarrels can cause anxiety. Anxiety can also be the result of overprotectiveness and the desire of mom and dad to always keep the teen under control.

  • Traumatic emotional experience

Anxiety can be fueled by emotions that are triggered when remembering a traumatic event. For example, if a child has an embarrassment while performing on stage, he will think that next time failure cannot be avoided, and other children will laugh at him.  

  • Features of the child’s personality

Often, persistent anxiety is the result of intrapersonal conflict. Quite often, insecure adolescents with low self-esteem, prone to excessive emotions and reflection, suffer from this.

  • School influence

Study is one of the main stressors for many children. Even the brightest and most intelligent kids are often worried about the grades and the upcoming test. Competition in the classroom, academic workloads and exaggerated demands from parents only exacerbate the situation, forcing the child to be in chronic stress.  

Symptoms: how to tell if children are overly anxious

As a child grows up, the clinical picture can be extremely diverse. Children 2-5 years old often become attached to their mother, considering her a source of comfort and reliability. Anxiety at this age is characterized by excessive tearfulness, excitability, or an apathetic state. The first fears and phobias appear, against the background of chronic stress, the activity of the immune system decreases, as a result of which the child is often sick.

Preschoolers normally have an overestimated level of self-esteem, while anxiety, on the contrary, is underestimated. Children prefer to play alone, do not participate in company fun. Quite often, increased anxiety turns into a more serious state – neurosis, for which the presence of obsessive actions or thoughts is typical. Such babies are afraid of the dark, closed spaces, often bite their nails, and can pull out hair on their head or body.

Teens with this trait usually differ from their peers by their quiet and timid behavior, inability to relax and have fun in society. They avoid noisy companies, preferring to spend most of their time in a secluded corner for their favorite pastime. Unfortunately, these guys are often bullied by others, which only exacerbates the situation. In the future, without correction, they do not become leaders, avoid public speaking, and rarely have significant success in the workplace.

Psychotherapy and other treatments

The main method of dealing with anxiety is the methods of psychology and psychotherapy. They have several main directions that allow you to correct the child’s condition: 

  • Self-esteem normalization

It is an adequate self-esteem that contributes to the harmonious development of the individual. First of all, such children should attend group classes, where the specialist gently gives them the opportunity to feel like a leader and show their own importance. Oftentimes, when a child is complimented or praised, it just blooms. He is also taught to keep a diary of his own achievements, without focusing on failures.

  • Stress relief

It is imperative that you develop specific stress relieving tactics for your child. Breathing exercises are ideal for someone, someone will add numbers in their minds or remember a multiplication table, someone will sort out a rosary or draw lines on a piece of paper. Body therapy is used for babies: tension is relieved through hugs or stroking, many teenagers are helped by sports, dancing, allowing them to feel their body and muscle tension.

  • Self-control training

Even in the most difficult situation, the child should not lose control. With simple exercises, the baby is taught to express his emotions in an accessible way (through conversation), and not through screaming, crying or tantrums.

Preventive measures

Increased anxiety in childhood or adolescence is an avoidable problem. To do this, psychologists recommend creating a favorable environment at home, maintaining a trusting relationship with the child, helping him in solving problems, praising his successes and teaching him to calmly relate to losses and failures. It is recommended to send the child to some kind of sports section: this will help the child not only temper his character, but also acquire new hobbies and friends.

event_note January 18, 2021

account_box Winona Tse MD

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