Do you frequently find yourself wishing that your child could just relax and enjoy life...if only for a moment?
Are you concerned because your child never seems to have a moment of peace due to a constant stream of worry about a variety of things?
Do you feel like you're playing a never-ending game of wack-a-mole with your child's anxiety...the moment you think one worry is under control, another one immediately pops up to take its place?
Do you feel frustrated because it's hard for you to have a moment of peace due to your child's continuous questions and constant need for reassurance?
Do you feel even more frustrated when you spend so much time reassuring your child and it does not even seem to make the smallest dent in your child's level of worry?
Does your child's philosophy of "doom and gloom" and "danger around every corner" cause you to worry about your child's well-being?
If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, your child might be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.
Do children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder worry differently than other children?
Well, yes and no. The nature of their worries are actually the same as those of other children. And all children worry. It is a natural part of growing, learning, and living. The difference lies in the intensity and persistence of their worries.
Children with generalized anxiety (as with all problematic anxierty) seem to "take their worries and run". In other words, they hold on to their worries for much longer than other children, finding it more difficult to let them go.
Additionally, the reassurance that typically calms other kids seems to have a negligible and short-lived effect on children with anxiety. In fact, ultimately, it makes it worse.
What is it like to be a child with generalized anxiety?
OUR LITTLE WORRIERS
Children with generalized anxiety disorder often are referred to as our "little worriers" or "worry warts." These kids find it challenging to be light-hearted, playful, and relaxed. It's as though they have taken on the weight of the world.
State of High Alert AND RUMINATION
Children with generalized anxiety find themselves in a state of constant alert. They may feel that this high state of alert is keeping them safe. But it is actually robbing them of their vitality and joy.
These children also frequently ruminate...or go over worries repeatedly in their minds. They mistake rumination for problem-solving. But, rumination is actually the opposite of problem-solving because it does not generate solutions or lead to effective action.
Being in this continuous state of fearful arousal and rumination can also take a physical toll on the child. It can often lead to frequent headaches, stomach aches, difficulty sleeping, general muscle tension, restlessness, and being easily fatigued.
Relationships and Behavior
It can also affect a child's relationships at home and at school. Being so keyed up and under a constant siege of worry can lead to emotional states, such as frequent crying, a short fuse, or frequent bouts of irritability.
It can also cause the child to have perfectionist standards for themselves and others. Since these children can see danger lurking around every corner, they can have a strong need to control every aspect of their environment in order to create more predictability.
Generalized anxiety can also take a toll on a child's academics. It can affect a child's concentration level, processing speed, work load capability, and performance.
Complicating matters, children with generalized anxiety often have a pervasive and deep-seated doubt in their own ability to handle things. And there lies the crux of the issue and the reason that their worries tend to be so intense and pervasive.
And if a child is being constantly bombarded with worries, but feels they don't have the capability to handle them, it is understandable how their anxiety can eventually morph into depression. Untreated childhood anxiety is one of the leading indicators of depression in adolescence and young adulthood.
But, this is not meant to be a depressing message. The key word above is untreated [anxiety]. My message is a message of hope. Families and children can be taught the skills to disrupt and change this pattern of anxiety!
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE CONTENT
Above, I have provided information about what is known as Generalized Anxiety. But, the type of anxiety that your child experiences is not what we will focus on in treatment.
That's because anxiety operates the same way regardless of its diagnostic category. These categories merely describe the type of things a person tends to worry about. And with generalized anxiety, the worries are all over the place.
So, focusing on the content of your child's worry is just not helpful.
What is helpful is to focus on how worry itself works and to teach your child a new way to respond to it. Your family and child will learn all about this concept in treatment.
The great news is that once children understand this concept, they will be equipped to manage worry, as its content shifts and changes as they grow.
Helping Anxious Kids is here to support your family. If you are seeking anxiety treatment for your child and my approach resonates with you, schedule an appointment today.