Anxiety symptoms in children are not that straightforward
Parents are often surprised when I explain how their child’s ‘misbehaviors’ can be more accurately described as ‘distressed behaviors’.
This is due to the way our nervous system responds when under stress. A child whose brain is in fight or flight looks a whole lot like a defiant child who won’t listen.
When our brain perceives we’re under threat our body reacts in the same way as if we were truly in danger.
This is anxiety.
Our amygdala (brains emotion center) is protecting us (as nature intended) through powerful survival instincts. However, when possible variables such as genetics, environment, physical health conditions, and temperament, create the conditions for an overactive amygdala, our brain struggles to discriminate real danger from perceived danger.
When our amygdala begins to work too hard and kick our nervous system into its stress response too often, we see survival instinct type behaviors in our kids.
Here are 10 anxiety symptoms in children that commonly baffle parents but are indicative of our bodies fight-flight-freeze response (and are proven by science).
10 Surprising Anxiety Symptoms in Children
Hands down, this is the one that most commonly throws parents off, even though when you think about it, it makes total sense. How do you react when living in a chronic state of anxiety and overwhelm? Very likely, you are more emotionally reactive.
When our brain’s emotion center is overactivated (which is what happens with anxiety) a child is more inclined to be irritable and reactive as all emotions are working in overdrive.
“Mom how many minutes until we get there?” Every kid asks these questions. Not every kid asks 25 times (yes, literally 25 times) during an hour-long road trip. Not knowing what to expect is highly uncomfortable for kids with anxiety and one way they can cope is by seeking information excessively.
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