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Look out for symptoms of anxiety and learn some tips on how to help decrease those anxious feelings in your child.

Look out for symptoms of anxiety and learn some tips on how to help decrease those anxious feelings in your child.

Some kids seem to be more anxious about going back to school than others. It might be a combination of COVID and all the other crazy viruses, the threat of school violence, or maybe just being away from their family and home. Others may be anxious due to past negative experiences or challenges with learning at school.

Feelings of anxiety are 100% normal and should be expected during times of transition. While a lot of people think of separation anxiety as a problem that affects toddlers and preschoolers, we also see it in much older kids. Separation anxiety can be a significant challenge for older children, as it may present itself in different ways than in younger children.

Some children (and even adults) seem to be more naturally inclined toward anxious thoughts and feelings than others. While most people experience some level of worry, high levels of anxiety can be disruptive socially, emotionally, and physically. Understanding and managing anxiety is a process, and it's important to develop coping strategies early on to maintain mental health and well-being.

What are some signs of an anxious child?

Anxiety is a common experience for many people, including children. Children may feel anxious about a wide range of things, such as separation from parents, social situations, academic performance, or even world events. When children experience anxiety, they may exhibit a range of symptoms that indicate they are struggling.

One common sign of anxiety and anxiety disorders in children is a loss of appetite or overeating. Anxiety can affect a child's appetite, and some children may lose their appetite while others may overeat as a way of coping with their anxiety. This can have negative effects on their overall health and well-being.

Another sign of anxiety in children is sleep problems. Children with anxiety may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. They may also have nightmares or night terrors, which can disrupt their sleep and leave them feeling exhausted during the day.

Children with anxiety or anxiety disorders may also become overly clingy or dependent on a parent or caregiver. They may have a hard time being separated from their loved ones and may resist going to school or other activities that take them away from their family. Additionally, they may become easily irritable, agitated, or easily upset, which can make it challenging for them to interact with others.

Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches, and other aches and pains. These symptoms can be persistent and may not have a clear medical explanation, which can make it difficult for parents to identify the root cause of the issue.

What can parents do if their child is particularly anxious?

When a child experiences anxiety, it is crucial for parents to take action to support them. However, it's also important to make sure that the child continues attending school. Allowing anxiety to prevent a child from going to school can rob them of the chance to learn how to manage their anxious feelings. It can also make it difficult for them to build friendships, enjoy their time at school, and establish a rapport with their teachers. The parent-teacher relationship is so paramount to helping kids succeed emotionally and academically.

If you notice your child struggling academically, socially, or emotionally, reach out to your child's teacher. Teachers can provide valuable insight into how the child is doing in the classroom and offer strategies for supporting the child's academic and emotional needs. Working together with the teacher can create a cohesive plan to support the child, both in and out of the classroom. If you have questions about the classroom or your child's progress, reach out! You do not need to wait for the first parent-teacher conference to make contact.

If the anxiety is significant and doesn't reduce after a while, the parent should always seek help from a professional. It's better to intervene early than to have your child (and family) struggle all year.

Make daily conversations and check-ins a priority with your children before hard situations happen. These conversations can be helpful in identifying and addressing issues before they become more significant problems. Once families get into the routine of talking regularly, these conversations will become easier and more productive.

Start now. Be intentional about talking to your kids for at least 10 minutes a day.

Face-to-face, dinner time, or car time is great. Just remember that it should be a focused time where you are asking them questions, listening, and sharing your thoughts and feelings. By teaching them how to communicate with you now, you are preparing them to be so much more comfortable in communicating with you later when much harder topics arise.

"I ask my kids to tell me 2 Hots and a Not. They tell me two things that went right and one thing that wasn't so hot. It's just something I made up that we have done for years. It's predictable, and we do it every day, so they are thinking all day about what they're going to remember and tell me. Their friends even get in the car and love to chat away."

What are some coping strategies that can help children manage their anxiety during the back-to-school transition?

Coping strategies can be effective tools to help children manage their anxiety during the back-to-school transition. Encouraging your child to practice healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in physical activity can help reduce anxiety levels. Encouraging children to talk about their feelings can also help them feel heard and validated. Additionally, teaching children relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or visualization can help them manage their anxious feelings at the moment.

Creating a structured routine can also help children feel more grounded and in control. Having a predictable daily schedule, including set times for meals, homework, and activities, can reduce uncertainty and provide a sense of stability. Parents can also help by making sure their child is prepared for the school day with all necessary supplies, homework completed, and a healthy lunch packed.

If something just doesn't seem right, what is the first step a parent should take?

Parents with concerns should contact a mental health provider who can offer an evaluation of their child's functioning and work with them to find strategies that will benefit their child and their family. By seeking an evaluation of their child's functioning, parents can gain valuable insight into their child's emotional and behavioral health and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to their child's unique needs.

It's important for parents to know that seeking help from a mental health professional is a proactive and empowering step towards better mental health for their child and their family. With the right support, parents can help their children overcome any challenges they may be facing and promote their overall well-being.

Online Behavioral Health Services

Anxiety is a common experience for many children, and it can manifest in a range of symptoms and behaviors, including loss of appetite or overeating, sleep problems, and increased clinginess or dependence on a parent or caregiver. If a child's anxiety symptoms are impacting their daily life or causing distress, it's important to seek help from a licensed mental health professional who can provide an evaluation and develop a tailored treatment plan.

At CHE Behavioral Health Services, our team offers online behavioral health services to support children and families struggling with generalized anxiety and anxiety disorders. We understand that anxiety can be disruptive socially, emotionally, and physically, and we offer evidence-based treatment and support to help children develop coping strategies and tools to improve their mental well-being.

For more information about anxiety and treatment options offered by CHE, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk and ready to listen.

Dr. Dana Watson

VP of Quality Assurance, CHE Behavioral Health Services