It may come as no surprise to any parent to hear that anxiety is the number one mental health difficulty children and adolescents face today. There are a myriad of different factors that contribute to the stress that children and adolescents experience, such as school, social, and familial expectations. Youth can be excellent at hiding their anxious symptoms not only from their parents but even from themselves! Some symptoms are easier to see while others take a keener eye to spot and may take more effort to uncover.
Look for Physical Signs…
- Complaining of aches and pains (e.g., stomach, chest, or head aches)
- Trouble breathing
It’s important to remember that any of these physical signs of anxiety can occur during everyday events. Any one of these occurring on their own, or with others, can be felt by every person at one point or another for both positive and negative experiences. When these physical signs occur frequently and are consistently displayed before or during a specific situation, there is likely something anxiety provoking about that situation.
… And Subtle Signs
Less easy to notice are actions, behaviours, and thoughts that can fly under the radar. Notice what it is your child is doing and when they are doing it. Are they often late to leave for school? Do they procrastinate on difficult subjects but not on easier ones? Do they check things repeatedly, like locked doors, before doing something else? It’s just as important to notice what your child is not doing. Are they not studying, doing homework, going out with friends, or attending extra-curricular activities? Refusal to do something can be a subtle way to avoid situations that provoke anxiety. If you suspect your child is experiencing anxiety, talk to them about it to better understand what they are thinking. Listening to what they say and understanding their perspective can help uncover what they are worried about. Anxiety can grow when left unchecked and your child needs your support to cope with it.
Massimo Di Domenico, M.A., is a therapist working under the supervision of Dr. Nalini Iype, C.Psych. and is also working towards the completion of his PhD in Clinical Developmental Psychology. He provides both treatment and assessment services to individuals of all ages – children, adolescents, and adults. Working with an integrative framework, he treats those suffering from depression and anxiety, difficulties in social relationships, and concerns related to parenting and family dynamics. For those seeking answers on how they, or their child, learn or work best, he also provides assessment services for learning disorders and ADHD.