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What does Anxiety Look Like in a Child

What does anxiety look like in a child

Anxiety happens to be a part of normal growth with a child. All children will experience anxiety from time to time. With that being said, there are some telltale signs that your child may truly have a deeper form of anxiety stemming from ADHD, Autism or simply Anxiety passed down from genetics.  Often times a child who suffers from anxiety has a high alert brain. The child desires to behave and act like their elders expect them too, but anxiety is an unreasonable fear of just about everything.

Anxiety can look like many things when we are talking about children. Often times as parents we struggle to see the signs of anxiety and instead punish the child for misbehaving. Anxiety in a child often times looks like aggression, anger, sadness and perhaps hyperactivity. Let’s elaborate upon these signs of anxiety in a child …

What does anxiety look like in a child?

Aggression or Anger

Anxiety triggers our brain to see trouble ahead. Whether it’s a reasonable sense of trouble or unreasonable, anxiety knows no boundaries. When a child’s brain senses trouble they will act out in aggressive ways. This is the child’s way to defend themselves. While the child doesn’t fully comprehend why they are angry or acting out aggressively, a parent can watch their child over time to learn triggers that set up an aggressive response. A child who has anxiety may show aggression when experiencing a new or difficult situation. Their brain kicks into flight or fight mode, and often due to lack of a matured brain, aggression kicks in.

Anxiety Fueled Sadness

Other children may exhibit more of a sad or depressed state of mind during anxiety attacks. This often happens when a child is less socially active and prefers to not get too much attention. Sadness that stems from anxious feelings can push a child into a state of depression and should be monitored as well as discussed. A child who appears to be sad and withdrawn from their regularly loved activities may have had something occur that pushed fear to the forefront. Take time to encourage your child to talk, and truly listen to what they are saying so that you can evaluate how to help them cope from anxiety fueled sadness.

Hyperactivity with Anxiety

Some children will end up being super hyperactive when anxiety has hit them. For some reason their fight or flight response is to become ridiculously out of control hyper. It’s almost like their nerves drive the energy level to high power so that they don’t have to stop and think about the situation that is causing anxiety. You may notice your child gets extremely hyper when in a new situation at a local playground or social gathering. It’s because this is their way to protect their mind from taking over and fueling a huge anxiety meltdown in front of everyone.

Anxiety in Children is Hard

There’s no doubt that anxiety in children can be seen in different ways for different children. Everyone is unique in how their brain has been trained to respond when anxiety attacks hit. The key to helping your anxious child is to learn their triggers and try to avoid unnecessary anxious scenarios. If you see that your child is showing aggression, sadness and/or hyperactivity when placed in unfamiliar scenarios, maybe it’s time to discuss this with your family doctor to formulate a plan to help your child cope with anxiety.

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