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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Adkins

Understanding Childhood Anxiety: Signs and Strategies for Parents

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues affecting children. While it's normal for kids to feel worried or nervous from time to time, persistent or intense anxiety can significantly impact their overall well-being and daily functioning. Recognizing the signs of anxiety in children and knowing how to manage it effectively is crucial for parents and caregivers. 

In this blog post, we'll explore how to identify anxiety in children and provide practical strategies for supporting them.

Recognizing Anxiety in Children:

Anxiety in children can manifest in various ways, and it's essential for parents to be aware of the signs. Here are some common indicators of anxiety in children:

  • Physical Symptoms: Stomach aches, headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue are common physical symptoms of anxiety in children.

  • Behavioral Changes: Avoidance of certain situations or tasks, withdrawal from social interactions, irritability, and perfectionism can all be signs of anxiety.

  • Emotional Reactions: Excessive worry, fearfulness, tearfulness, and emotional sensitivity are emotional symptoms that may indicate anxiety in children.

  • Cognitive Patterns: Negative thinking, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and hypervigilance are cognitive symptoms often associated with childhood anxiety.

  • Social Challenges: Social withdrawal, difficulty making friends, and performance anxiety in social situations are common social symptoms of anxiety in children.

Managing Childhood Anxiety:

Fortunately, there are many strategies parents can use to help their children manage anxiety effectively. Here are some practical tips:

  • Create a Safe and Supportive Environment: Foster open communication with your child, listen to their concerns without judgment, and provide reassurance and encouragement.

  • Teach Coping Skills: Teach relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises to help your child calm down when feeling anxious.

  • Establish Predictable Routines: Establish consistent daily routines to provide structure and predictability, which can help reduce anxiety.

  • Encourage Healthy Habits: Encourage regular physical activity, healthy eating, and adequate sleep, as these habits can help reduce anxiety.

  • Model Calm Behavior: Be mindful of your own reactions to stress and anxiety, and model healthy coping strategies for your child to emulate.

  • Seek Professional Help if Needed: If your child's anxiety significantly interferes with their daily functioning or quality of life, consider seeking help from a qualified mental health professional (licensed therapist or psychologist) who specializes in working with children.

  • Educate Yourself: Learn more about childhood anxiety and how it manifests, so you can better understand and support your child.

  • Celebrate Progress: Acknowledge and celebrate your child's efforts and progress in managing anxiety, no matter how small.

When should medication be considered?

Medication for childhood anxiety is usually considered when symptoms are severe, persistent, and significantly impair the child's functioning and quality of life despite other interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and lifestyle changes. 

Like adults, the first-line medication treatment for anxiety during childhood includes the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants due to their effectiveness and relatively low risk of side effects. They work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety symptoms. 

Examples of SSRI’s include fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft). These may also be recommended if a child has a co-occurring condition such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that is not adequately managed with therapy alone.

Important Considerations for Parents:

  • Consultation with a Mental Health Professional: Before considering medication for your child's anxiety, it's essential to consult with a qualified mental health professional who can conduct a thorough assessment and discuss treatment options tailored to your child's needs.

  • Risks and Benefits: Discuss the potential risks and benefits of medication with your child's healthcare provider, including possible side effects and long-term effects on development.

  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: If medication is prescribed, closely monitor your child for any changes in symptoms or side effects, and attend regular follow-up appointments with their mental healthcare provider to assess treatment progress and adjust medication as needed.

  • Comprehensive Treatment Approach: Medication should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment approach that may also include therapy, lifestyle changes, and support from family and caregivers.

If Your Child Struggles With Anxiety, We Can Help!

Recognizing anxiety in children and knowing how to manage it effectively is essential for parents and caregivers. By being attentive to the signs of anxiety, providing support, and implementing practical strategies, parents can help their children develop coping skills and resilience to navigate life's challenges. 

Remember that every child is unique, so it's essential to tailor your approach to meet your child's individual needs and preferences. With patience, understanding, and support, you can help your child thrive despite their anxiety.

If you’re in need of more support to help your child struggling with anxiety, worry, stress, or panic attacks, contact us for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305.

Our team of expert therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric medication providers can help you, your child, and your family!

For more information about Crystal Adkins, psychiatric medication provider located at Bayview Therapy (Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, and Plantation, Florida), click here.


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