The Intermingling of Adolescence and Anxiety
By Amanda Henderson, Safe Children
PUBLISHED: April 17, 2019
Today’s children are under more stress and are feeling more anxiety than ever. Between the pressures of testing at school and unrealistic expectations set out by social media, teens and tweens have a lot on their plate. But even younger children are not immune to anxiety, which has many negative side effects and long-term implications on a child’s well-being and emotional development. Fortunately, there are signs that our children are stressed, and there are things we can do to help.
There are many types of anxiety disorder in children. Generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and social phobia are perhaps the most common. Children do not have to be diagnosed formally to experience the signs and symptoms, which may present as an unwillingness to go to school, clinginess, or an upset stomach.
External factors often trigger bouts of anxiety. But genetics and brain chemistry play a huge role in how a child reacts to external stressors. Further, children who grow up in an environment where the adults in their lives do not handle stress well are more likely to learn negative coping behaviors.
If you suspect that your child is suffering with anxiety, ask them about their day. Pressure, high-stakes testing, and negative encounters with authority figures can all lead to unshakable anxiety. A reluctance to explain what’s bothering them may indicate that the problems come from within the home. Developmental psychologist Diana Divecha, Ph.D. has written extensively on the connection between parental stress and conflict and childhood development.
How to help
Helping your child handle stress starts with identifying the issues. Once you know the source of their internal discord, invite them to talk about it. Sometimes, simply working through a problem out loud in safe and comfortable conditions can help.\
Another effective way to reduce the strain of stress is to ensure that your children get enough sleep. According to Oxford Learning, failure to get an adequate amount of rest can affect a child’s concentration and ability to learn effectively. This can lead to poor performance in school, which can cause anxiety on its own. If your child’s stress comes from the home, you may need to learn how to curb your own anxiety. Make a point to avoid emotional confrontations with your spouse in front of your children and prioritize family time. Redbook asserts that low-stress parents have many things in common including that they prioritize family time and make a point to cook dinner most nights.
Some parents have found that using natural supplements, such as CBD oil, also helps with their children’s anxiety (and many other issues). However, as a relatively new player in the world of holistic healing, CBD oil providers are popping up all of the internet and they don’t all have the same quality controls. Before giving your children this – or any other supplement – do some research to find out which brands you can trust. Remedy Review suggests looking for a manufacturer that uses third-party testing and is willing to answer any questions you may have.
Perhaps most importantly, talk to your children about what is expected of them. Sometimes, children feel stressed out when they do poorly in school. Let them know that you do not expect perfection. Be very clear with your children and avoid giving them ambiguous goals such as “try your best,” or “don’t sweat the small stuff.” An example would be letting your school-stressed child know that you expect them to spend 30 minutes studying for their test each night and that they must answer the questions with the knowledge they have of the subject. Pass or fail, they have done what is expected and likely won’t feel as intimidated by the thought of letting you know they didn’t make an A.
Anxiety is tough to handle at any age. And for kids, it can change how they create peer groups, handle issues as they enter adulthood, and lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices. It’s up to us to help them stop it before it takes over.
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