Children’s Mental Health: Stress and Anxiety
Children’s mental health has been impacted more than ever now and many children are experiencing stress and anxiety due to COVID-19. Learn how to identify stress and anxiety behaviors in your child and where you can go for help.
What does stress and anxiety look like in children?
Stress and anxiety in children can look differently depending on the situation. It can take the form of:
- Separation anxiety
- Social anxiety
- General anxiety
- Panic disorder
Children can show separation anxiety when they are away from their parents, have extreme fears about specific things or situations, be afraid of going to school or being around a lot of people. Worry about the future and about bad things happening or having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear can lead to symptoms such as heart pounding, having trouble breathing or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty.
What behaviors should parents look for?
Parents should be aware of behaviors that may suggest their child is stressed or anxious such as:
- Fear or worry
- Trouble sleeping
- Physical symptoms
What if my child is showing one or some of these signs or behaviors?
If your child is showing one or more of these signs or behaviors, you should consult your child’s doctor. Their doctor may recommend a specialist to evaluate their behaviors and let you know if further treatment is needed. Adventist HealthCare also has resources to help such as The Lourie Center’s FASTT Program. The FASTT program is a Family Attachment-focused Services, Treatment & Training program, in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. It serves children from birth to 12 years old with
significant mental health challenges. The Lourie Center’s unique model provides care from a specialized team using attachment-centered, trauma-informed and equity-advancing principles.
What are the biggest causes of stress and anxiety in children?
The biggest causes of stress and anxiety in children are school- and friend-related. It’s not uncommon for children to exhibit negative behaviors in school and toward their friends when they are overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Children can show physical symptoms of stress or anxiety as a stomachache or headaches to avoid going to school or wanting to come home from school.