Under the best of circumstances, parenting a child with mental health care needs can be especially stressful. The current pandemic has exasperated that stress for children and their caregivers. During this unprecedented time routines have been disrupted, which can contribute to heightened symptoms of anxiety for those who rely on things to be predictable.
Children: If your child has anxiety symptoms, they tend to present as worried. Their worries may include school performance, fear of initiating new ventures, worry about bad things happening to their parents or caregivers or having a vague sense of something terrible occurring while separated from loved ones.
Teenagers: If your teenager has anxiety symptoms, they tend to worry excessively. Their worries include grades, family issues, relationships with peers, and general performance. Teenagers with anxiety symptoms tends to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. They may also seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
Symptoms of anxiety
- Restless, wound-up or on-edge
- Easily fatigued, irritable
- Difficulty concentrating, mind going blank
- Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Separation avoidance
- Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
- Having trouble focusing on school work or following simple instructions from a parent
- Irritability which may result in an outburst
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep
- Complaints of being tired or fatigued
- Not following through on given tasks
It can be difficult for your child to think clearly and make logical decisions when dealing with anxiety. Given our own stress we may be more apt to tell our children everything will be “fine.” With children trying to manage anxiety this can feel invalidating of their symptoms and feelings. Try using the FEEL method to deal with your child’s worry.
Freeze: Pause and take some deep breaths with your child. Deep breathing can help reverse the nervous system response.
Empathize: Anxiety is scary. Your child wants to know that you get it.
Evaluate: Once your child is calm, it’s time to figure out possible solutions.
Let go: Let go of your guilt. You are a great parent giving your child the tools to manage their worry.
Stay connected and communicate with your support team including, therapists, doctors, teachers and family members!
Horizon is here for you! You can always give us a call at 716.831.1800.