There is no age limit on stress and anxiety. While some parents have always seen their child as a “worrier,” some families are noticing the effects of stress on their child for the first time. Still, some children may only have experienced anxiety after a trauma or other high-stress event.
The truth: anxiety looks different in kids! Children who are affected by anxiety and stress are often mislabeled and misdiagnosed.
HOW ANXIETY, TRAUMA, OR STRESS MAY LOOK IN A CHILD
An anxious child may be seen as:
THE COOL KID
Damian is the “cool kid” in class. His teacher reports that he refuses to complete school work and spends much of class time socializing with his friends. When his teacher talks to him after class, he is like a completely different student: compliant, friendly, apologetic, and perhaps a bit embarrassed. While on the outside Damian may seem like a student who doesn’t care about school, his fear of criticism from his peers takes precedence. He fears that his friends will tease him if he gets good grades.
Sarah is a good student who follows the rules of the classroom. While she gets excellent grades on her assignments, you won’t find her raising her hand when the teacher asks for a volunteer. Sarah fears humiliation at the risk of saying or doing something wrong. As a result, she refuses to try things unless she can be certain of success. Maria can also be found spending much more time than is expected to complete various school assignments, often resulting in staying up late. In the morning, Sarah finds it difficult to get moving because she is so tired, and may even miss school that day.
THE SHY ONE
At school or in the community, Anthony finds himself frozen; unable to speak. Feeling the need to protect her child from discomfort, and not wanting to make others feel uncomfortable when he stares blankly or hides in response to their greetings, Anthony’s mother often explains that he is “shy.” However, he is very talkative and even a bit high-energy when at home with his family or with close friends.
THE TUMMY TROUBLED
Maria has a few close friends at school, but they aren’t in many of her classes. In her eyes, everyone in her math class is surrounded by their friends and she feels completely left out. Whenever her teacher announces that it’s time to work with a partner or in groups, Maria feels sick to her stomach and asks to go to the nurse’s office. Maria’s tummy troubles increase throughout the school year and, despite being seen by a number of different medical specialists, there is no medical explanation for her pain and discomfort. On the weekends, her symptoms improve. When Monday morning comes, however, Maria’s symptoms reappear and she pleads with her parents to let her stay home. Her school has expressed concern over the number of absences she has had.
How We Can Help
At Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center, we take the time to complete a comprehensive evaluation of each client so that we can provide accurate and effective treatment to help children manage their symptoms so that they can get back to school, and back to being a kid! We also understand the value of family, so parents will always have involvement in our therapeutic work together. This way treatment can continue at home, increasing the likelihood for lasting results with symptom reduction, helping your child reach peak mental health performance. Climb on.
If you think your child might be experiencing anxiety or stress, click HERE to schedule a comprehensive intake session.
- Clare Gosney, PsyD, Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center