How To Tell If A 3 Year Old Has Anxiety Signs of Stress & Anxiety in Children

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Signs of Stress & Anxiety in Children

Stress is a phenomenon that is different or somewhat the same for every child/or adult. We are at some point conditioned to believe that stress is bad and that there is a solution in a product – Calgon bath salts or a pill. Of course, we need to attend to the problems that make us feel apprehensive or scared before or after an experience. In any case, it is better to talk about the experience before or after to understand the needs of the child or adult.

Most importantly, I strongly recommend that you avoid assuming that all stress is bad or that stress will continue. Yes, something might be a challenge, but stress is not inherent.

Parents who are cautious may instill their own fear into the child’s psyche. It is also important to avoid projecting their fear into the child’s experience. Avoid using the words stress or anxious. Ask the child how they feel without putting a label on it. And it helps the child to solve problems before and after a new experience.

Children can not exhibit stress in the same way as adults. For example, they may show anger or irritability in addition to fear and worry.

It is understandable that parents worry about the experiences of their children, but it is important to know that some childhood stress is common, and with patience, compassion and communication can be resolved quickly. Some children take longer to process their feelings. If a child seems to be struggling for more than a few months, you may need to engage with a practitioner who specializes in holistic mental health protocols.

Let’s talk about common childhood concerns

There are a number of things that often cause concern and discomfort for children of different ages. New situations, challenging tasks, and even unknown people can lead to apprehension and discomfort in children occasionally.

Other age-appropriate themes include:

  • ~ Fear of Strangers which starts at 7 to 9 months of age and resolves around the age of three.

  • ~ Fear of the dark, monsters, insects and animals in preschool children

  • ~ Fear of heights or thunderstorms in younger school-aged children

  • ~ Worry about school and friends in children and adolescents of school age

These common childhood fears typically disappear on their own as the child grows.

Signs and Symptoms of Discomfort in Children

As it is common to have occasional discomfort, children who show symptoms of discomfort can behave with:

  • ~ Anger or aggression, such as yelling, screaming, hitting, tantrums

  • ~ Avoid certain situations

  • ~ Bedwetting

  • ~ Changes in appetite

  • ~ Fatigue

  • ~ Having trouble at school

  • ~ Headache

  • ~ Irritability

  • ~ Muscle tension

  • ~ Nervous habits like nail biting, hair pulling

  • ~ Nightmares

  • ~ He refuses to go to school

  • ~ Restlessness

  • ~ Uncooperative

  • ~ Social withdrawal

  • ~ Stomach ache

  • ~ Concentration problems

  • ~ Difficulty sleeping

The frequency and appearance of stress can vary according to the nature of the situation. Some fears can be triggered by specific situations, objects or settings.

Other indicators of concern include symptoms that interfere with the child’s ability to learn, interact with peers, sleep at night, or function normally in daily life. Such as:

  • The illness or death of a family member or friend

  • Birth of a brother

  • divorce

  • Community factors

  • Being in a car accident, house fire, or other physical accident

Common childhood fears that persist beyond the age where fear is expected (such as fear of the dark or being away from parents past preschool age) are also a point of concern.

And I’ll close with a little story. When my son was 16 and in his first year in high school, he asked:

“Mom why do kids break down when there is a test?

Me: I don’t know. Everyone is different. What do you think of the tests?

Son: I like texts.

Me: What do you like about them?

Son: Because then I know what I am and what I am not. So I can learn what I don’t know.

Me: How did you decide that?

Son: Mom!! (incredulous tone of voice) You said there is nothing to worry about and everything has a solution.

There is proof in the pudding. Preparing children in a non-concerning tone of voice or mindset is powerful and empowering.

Every moment is a teaching moment use it well.

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