Ah, youth. We adults look back at is a carefree time in our lives when it seems like the biggest problems we face have to do with picking just one book for bedtime, or ensuring our headband matches our outfit that day.
While many of us long for simpler times that are synonymous with childhood, kids can and do experience stress and anxiety, too. Especially in a post-COVID world, where so many traditional experiences have morphed into a “new normal” that is anything but “normal” for the next generation.
For adults, anxiety can manifest in a number of ways: panic attacks, sleepless nights, tension, restlessness, irritability, fatigue…the list goes on.
What does that anxiety look like in children? Most kids haven’t fully developed their communication skills to articulate when they’re feeling anxious or stressed, so signs of anxiety may be less obvious.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, one in eight children suffers from an anxiety disorder.
Here are some possible symptoms to look out for when it comes to spotting anxiety in children:
- Changes in sleep habits or patterns, more nightmares, and increased sleepiness as a result
- Changes in eating patterns
- Recurring episodes of irritability; short tempers
- Refusing to go to school or participate in extracurricular activities
- Difficulty concentrating
Anxiety at Any Age is Normal
While it is not exactly an experience we wish upon anyone – especially children – anxiety is a perfectly normal human emotion, and equipping our kids with the skills and tools to manage anxiety productively is a valuable life skill to have.
Learning How to Manage Anxiety
A great way to help tiny humans manage their feelings is to bring awareness to and label the big emotions they’re experiencing. For instance, if you witness frustration, you could say: “You’re frustrated right now, you didn’t want that to happen.” Listening and labeling the feeling will not only help validate them, but with practice, will also help them develop emotional awareness and communicate verbally.
Another tool that will benefit them (now and as they grow!) is deep belly breathing. Practice this alongside your little: breathe in through your nose, counting to five, filling your belly like a balloon. Then breathe out through your mouth slowly, counting to five again. Repeat this a few times.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
One way to reinforce your child’s positive behavior in coping with their stress is to incorporate a reward system, and what kiddo wouldn’t love to be rewarded with a yummy treat? Our Calm for Kids Chocolate is the perfect complement to your relaxing routine because we use a safe, gentle blend of chamomile flower and L-Theanine (the amino acid from chamomile tea) that encourages calmness. Oh, and it’s enrobed in delicious chocolate! Check out the reviews from other parents to see how Calm for Kids has worked for their families.
Consult a Pediatrician
For more information on ways to help you distinguish what is considered “normal” childhood anxiety (for instance, the birth of a new sibling), and a disorder that needs to be treated, please talk to your pediatrician and/or a child psychologist.
And just remember moms and dads, you’re doing great.