Timely articles on mental health issues and spirituality
We’ve been talking a lot lately about anxiety...a really worthwhile topic considering that it is the #1 mental health concern facing our society. What about children and teens though? How does anxiety show up for them? In many ways, it looks the same as adults. But in other ways, especially for our youngest ones, it can look really different. Anxiety has the potential to affect every part of a young person’s life, including their physical health, emotional well-being, education, and social skill development. With kids, when we notice new or concerning behaviors, we often think of it as a “phase” or something that they will “grow out of”. However, with anxiety, it doesn’t just go away, but rather, patterns tend to become more deeply entrenched. Also, because anxiety looks different for kids, many are misdiagnosed as having ADHD, oppositional behaviors, or other behavioral concerns.
Most mental health concerns develop to some extent prior to age 25, and early identification and treatment makes a significant difference. Knowing what to look for is important!
Here are a few common signs of anxiety in kids and teens:
Of course, some degree of anxiety is normal, but you may want to consider reaching out for support if your child or teen’s anxiety is at the point where it is interfering with their day to day life (or that of your family) in a significant way.
While it may seem frightening, anxiety is highly treatable with the right support in place. As I teach my young clients, we first have to “Name It to Tame It”. Identifying anxiety for what it is, is the most important first step. Once this happens, you are empowered to take the needed steps to help your child or teen overcome their anxiety.
To close, I offer you a prayer written by Christie Thomas from the website Little Shoots, Deep Roots, based on Psalm 118:6-7, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.”
“Thank you God that you are with me. Help me not to be afraid. I know that my worries can’t hurt me because you are with me, and you are my helper. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Laura Dempsey is a licensed social worker and therapist with nearly 20 years of experience counseling children and families.