I am receiving a significant increase in enquiries from parents looking for help for their son or daughter experiencing anxiety related issues. Some of these young people have been as young as 10 years of age.
The issues range from worries about going to school or being in lessons, concern for loved ones (which might include fear of death), tics and obsessive compulsive disorders such as rituals, nightmares and even a sense of impending doom of life in general. Peer related problems such as bullying or difficulty fitting in are of course also a huge issue.
So what are the signs to look out for?
On a physiological level, anxiety can cause a number of reactions in the body, which can feel very unpleasant: They include…
Feeling shaky, feeling sick or having stomach cramps, or feeling dizzy or faint.
Breathing fast or finding it hard to breathe.
Heart beating fast (palpitations), sweating, tense muscles.
You might want to look out for the following types of behaviours in your child when they are faced with situations they do not like:
Feeling scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed a lot of the time.
Not having the confidence to try new things, face challenges or even carry on as normal.
Finding it hard to concentrate, or having problems with sleeping or eating.
Having angry outbursts where your child gets very angry very quickly and feels ‘out of control’.
Worries or negative thoughts going round and round the young person’s head, or thinking that bad things are going to happen all the time.
It’s important that as a parent you are on the lookout for these signs of anxiety if you think there is an issue because it can have adverse effects later in life.
We don’t always just grow out of it. A majority of children, if they have anxiety disorders as a child, are much more likely to have problems that may continue throughout adolescence into adulthood, and then have a range of other mental health problems.
There are plenty of useful online websites and self help books. This may be a good place to start: http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_parents/worried_about_your_child/anxiety
But if you think your child would benefit from talking to someone, then I can definitely help. There are a range of techniques from just talking to using CBT techniques. I’ve even been known to sit on the floor with a young person and draw pictures of their worries and mine (be warned I even get parents drawing). I love doing this as its so much more relaxed for a young person.
Therapy doesn’t have to be scary. Please get in touch if you want to know more.