Dealing with an anxious child is always challenging for the teacher or the parent. It is always a major worry
about what I can give my child for anxiety. Experts noted that fears, worries and anxiety is very common in children because of the normal growing up process.
Children go through a lot of experiences as they grow up. These experiences may form the basis of current
anxiety or future anxiety. As discussed in most of the anxiety disorders, one of the main causes of anxiety disorders in adults is childhood trauma.
Anxiety in children under 10 years is mainly about the fear for darkness, dogs, monsters and other animals just to name a few. Older children have fears about death, loss or even personal safety.
Anxiety when not excessive is normal for children to develop. In some other cases however, the anxiety is excessive, repetitive or causing fear with some children experiencing panic attacks. These cases of anxiety can interrupt learning or normal activities in these children.
Anxiety in children affects every 1 out of 8 children according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. These children may be unable to make friends, raise a hand in class, or even participating in games and other social events. This is because the child has feelings of being afraid, ashamed and lonely among others.
When the anxiety in children is not treated, it can result in the following:
- Poor performance at school
- Hard time in paying attention
- Substance abuse
- Mental disorders like depression, eating disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Adult anxiety disorders
- Increase in suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety disorders or negative feelings on the parents
When dealing with an anxious child, you have to learn two ways to help the child cope: Learning how to help the child to calm down and helping the child know how to calm herself when anxious.
What are the signs and symptoms of childhood anxiety disorder?
The signs of childhood disorders are almost similar to the symptoms of anxiety disorders in adults. Children suffer from all the anxiety disorders which include:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in children:
In this disorder a child worries about a number of things including family problems, punctuality at school, relationship with peers, poor grades, performance in sports, health, animals and natural disasters among other. The symptoms of GAD in children include:
- Fatigue or easily getting tired
- Inability to sleep or staying asleep
- Being restless always
- Difficulty concentrating at school or at home
- Being irritable
- Poor performance in school
- Child seeking perfection or being too hard on themselves.
- A child may also try to seek for approval from other children or parents.
Panic disorder in children:
This is an anxiety disorder where a child experiences at least 2 unexpected panic attacks or anxiety attacks in a month followed by times of fear and worry about getting another attack or going crazy/losing control feelings. These panic attacks should have no reason and should occur suddenly. The following are the symptoms of panic disorder:
- Having feelings of imminent danger
- Feeling the need to escape
- Nausea, abdominal discomfort and sometimes vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increase in sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Having a feeling of choking
- Discomfort in the chest or chest pain
- Felling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feelings of things being unreal
- Fear of losing control or a feeling of going crazy
- Worry about dying
- Hot flushes
- Having a tingly sensation
Agoraphobia in children
Agoraphobia is associated with panic disorders and it occurs when the child starts to avoid areas, situations because either they had a panic attack there or fear that they may not escape when an attack occurs.
In these children they may refuse to go out to play or go to school. They may also exhibit other avoidance habits like staying in the house all the time or in the car.
Separation anxiety disorder in children
Separation anxiety in children is a common form of anxiety which occurs between the ages of 18 months to 36 months. It can however graduate to a disorder if it occurs frequently to older kids.
Separation anxiety portrays with symptoms like: Crying when separated from a person or a place they are used to and takes longer than other
children to calm down.
Separation anxiety disorders affects like 4 percent of children affecting children between 7 and 9 years. The disorder has the following symptoms in children:
- Excessive anxiety when far away from home
- Excessive crying when separated from parents or from relatives
- Extreme homesickness
- Feelings of misery
- Refusing to go to school, or far away from home
These children always worry that something bad will happen to their caregivers when they are away. In other instances they just have asense that horrible things will happen when they are far away from home or from
people they are used to.
Social anxiety disorder
This disorder is also called social phobia. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by extreme fear and anxiety about social and performance activities or situations. For this reason, these children performance at school is negatively impacted. The child may also refuse to go to school, attend social activities, socialize with other children or maintain any relationship with peers.
The following are the additional symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
- Being uncomfortable or hesitant from being in the spotlight
- Being unable or refusing to initiate conversations
- Having difficulty with public speaking or reading aloud in class or raising your hand when question are asked in class
- Having a soft speech or having mumbles
- Being always isolated from peer groups
- Avoiding eye contact with most people
- Frequently sitting alone in class, library or cafeteria
- Being so much concerned that people will give you negative evaluation, being humiliated or embarrassed
This is an irrational and intense fear for a situation or object like animals, storms, heights, water, blood, darkness and medical procedures. Examples of these fears are the fears for spiders, worms, flying or darkness.
These fears often appear in childhood and go away but in some children the specific fear lasts for a period of more than 6 months. The fear can interfere with a child’s normal routine. This way the child will avoid the
objects or situations that cause the fear. Thus the child may refuse to go play outside for the fear of an animal.
The children can also endure the objects or situations that bring about fear with lots of anxiety. The anxiety in this case may present as tantrums, crying, clinging, avoidance, stomachache and headaches among others.
The difference between the child and an adult having a specific phobia is that the adult will recognize that the fear is irrational while the child will not.
Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorders where a child with the ability to talk refuses to talk in some situations or to some people. The disorder thus interferes with their performance/ attendance to school and also the ability to create and sustain friendships.
The child is able to speak well when at home or in the presence of familiar people and places. This portraying of normal behavior when in familiar situations can cause confusion when a parent is informed of the selective mutism tendencies.
The child with selective mutism will be diagnosed when they are between 4 and 8 years old. It can also be noticed when the child starts school.
Selective mutism has the following symptoms:
- A child standing motionless or expressionless
- Turning their heads
- Chewing or twirling the hair
- Avoidance of eye contact with the peers or adults
- A child withdrawing to the corner to avoid speaking
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There are children who suffer from PTSD. These children have the following symptoms after being witness to or experiencing a traumatic or life-threatening event:
- Have intense fear and anxiety
- Are emotionally numb
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Difficulty in paying attention
- Nervousness about the people or situations around them
- Are easily irritated and jumpy especially when there are loud noises
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Try to avoid places, people or activities
- Recreating traumatic events through play, drawing or art
Children with posttraumatic stress disorder get almost real re-experiencing of the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares. The PTSD symptoms may appear immediately or after period. It should be noted that not all children who undergo trauma develop PTSD.
The risk factors for PTSD are mental diseases, family history, violence at home and the children who lack social support in addition to experiencing or witnessing the traumatic event.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive behavior is a disorder characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts and feeling the urge to repeat some rituals and routines. The thoughts are called obsessions while the rituals and routines are
The children with this disorder are mostly diagnosed at around 10 years of age but even younger children can have the disorder symptoms.
In most instances, boys develop OCD before puberty while girls develop it during adolescence. The children with OCD have the following obsessions and compulsions.
|Washing the hands repeatedly to avoid germs||Regular and irrational worry about germs and dirt|
|Having a special way of arranging or ordering objects||Extreme concerns about order, organization or symmetry.|
|Repetition of names, prayers, song or activity||Invasive names, words or sounds|
|Storing or keeping items with no use||Fear of losing valuable thongs or objects|
|Looking for reassurance or just doing things until you feel they are
|Fear of imperfection or being wrong|
|Scrutiny and rechecking stuffs, situations or information||Having fear that a loved one of self may fall into danger or harm|
What can I give my child for anxiety?
There are several ways of treating children with anxiety. Some of these methods can be used in helping students with anxiety in school. The following are the commonly used methods for the management of anxiety in children:
- Medications and supplements
- Use of natural home remedies
However, for what can I give my child for anxiety, the following methods can be explored which is a mix of home remedies and medications.
Use of distracting toys
There are several toys that can be used to distract your child from anxiety disorders. Some of the toys have proven to be quite effective in the management of anxiety symptoms.
Use of weighted blanket
There are several brands of weighted blankets that have proven to be quite effective in the management of anxiety in children. Weighted blankets also help to ensure that you sleep well thus helping in the management
The weighted blankets help to put pressure on the body’s pressure points hence helping to relieve anxiety. The anxiety blankets are available in different sizes in order to fit either the child’s bed or the adult’s bed.
I personally recommend Quility Premium Kids Weighted Blanket which comes in different sizes and weights to ensure comfort and anxiety relief in your child. You can also explore other weighted blankets for children here.
Use of supplements
Even when asking what can I give my child for anxiety, most parents are not comfortable giving their children medication for anxiety. The supplements are natural alternatives to medication for anxiety. The supplements have also been proven to offer anxiety relief.
Supplements can be used with other methods of anxiety cure. This is because anxiety is a complex disorder that may require a combination of two or more of the management methods.
The supplements are made of minerals, vitamins, herbs, amino acids and naturally occurring hormones to help you sleep. The supplements being natural are not regulated by FDA. Some of the best supplements for anxiety
- Magnesium: Magnesium has been linked to managing anxiety. It can easily be increased in the diet or can be taken as magnesium supplements to ensure anxiety management. The foods that are rich in magnesium for an increase in the diet include rice, wheat, and oats when unprocessed. Others are pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: In several studies, omega-3 has been shown to improve mental performance and mental health. Due to this, its deficiency has been shown to lead to mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and ADHD. The omega-3 can be increased by taking foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish. A child can also be given omega-3 supplements such as Dr Tobias Omega 3 Softgels. Kindly ensure that the child is given the right dose of omega 3.
- Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B complex is known to affect the working of the nervous system. The vitamin is available in several food sources that the child can be given to increase the levels of vitamin B complex in the body. These include eggs, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It can also be taken as a supplement for example by giving the child my favorite vitamin B complex supplement; Garden of Life Vitamin B complex supplements.
- Passionflower, lavender, lemon balm, and chamomile: These herbal supplements are best known as natural sleep aids. They aid in relaxation and sleep. However, this action is also very effective in anxiety management. Anxiety management requires enough sleep and relaxation. The passionflower can be used as capsules or in tea. The best passionflower capsules are Now foods passion flower supplements. In tea Tadin passion flower tea can be taken for anxiety in children. For chamomile and lavender, the Traditional Medicinals organic tea is excellent for anxiety. For these teas, sweetening by using honey or stevia will work for young children.
The supplements may take care or symptoms such as child anxiety causing vomiting or even lack of sleep. The supplements are effective in helping the body to calm down, repair or balance the body chemicals.
There are several natural home remedies that can be used to help manage anxiety in children. These methods may not treat the anxiety but they help the child to cope with the anxiety.
Some of the home remedies can be tailored depending on the symptoms such as as child anxiety causing vomiting. The remedies will be used to relieve the symptoms as they teach the child on how to cope.
These home remedies include:
- Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques like massage, yoga, meditation and listening to their favorite music can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Exercise: Making sure the child does not just sit in the house but goes out to play
- Discussing about anxiety: Talking with the child about anxiety may help to reduce its effects on the child
- Help the child to manage stress: This can be done by asking the child to count up to 10 while taking deep breaths.
- Ensuring the child gets enough sleep every night: Sleeping well has been shown to be one of the best remedies for anxiety. We can target this by reducing the stimulants intake and also taking them to bed early.
Use of medication
There are several medications that can be used to treat anxiety. These anxiety medications may be available over the counter for children use of may require a prescription from a doctor. Some of the commonly used medications for anxiety in children include:
- Alpha-2 agonists like Clonidine or guanfacine
The final word
What can I give my child for anxiety? There are several things you can give to your child for anxiety. These include home remedies, weighted blankets, supplements and fidget toys.
Helping students with anxiety in school applies the same principles used in the management of anxiety. At school the child may not use the weighted blanket if he is a day scholar. However for boarders, all the anxiety management methods work.
It is great to ensure anxiety in children is managed early. This ensures that the anxiety does not result in substance abuse, mental disorders or poor performance.