The negative impacts of childhood anxiety on adolescent and adult mental health have been studied by numerous researchers. Many child and adolescent therapists agree that childhood anxiety, if not treated, negatively impacts individuals later on in life. We have heard from many of our teenage clients that they used to feel this way [anxious, stressed, worried] since they were little. They often have memories about being anxious for tests, oral presentations, sports performances, finding friends, and spending too much time worrying about friendships, grades, school, and life in general.
Most children don’t have the vocabulary to explain (or express) the feelings of anxiety and as such their anxiety manifests itself in different forms such as clinginess, shyness, refusing to go to birthday parties, psychosomatic pain (stomach-ache and headaches), and when it becomes too much to handle it will turn to anger (tantrums and aggressive behavior).
According to researchers, high levels of childhood anxiety are predictors of a range of mental health issues in adolescence. For example, children who tend to worry excessively and unrealistically about future or past events (worriers) are more likely to develop anxiety disorders, have panic attacks, depression and conduct disorder during adolescence.
What could parents do?
Don’t wait until your child has a clinical diagnosis for an anxiety disorder! Instead, pay attention to these signs and find an art therapist or a child therapist for your child, who can help reduce the symptoms by developing emotional regulation and anxiety management skills, and teaching mindfulness techniques.
Here are some of the signs that your child might have anxiety and could benefit from seeing an art therapist or a child therapist:
- Difficulty in concentration
- Insomnia, difficulty falling sleep, waking up in the night with bad dreams
- Change of appetite
- Irritability and angry behavior
- Constantly worrying
- Extreme fatigue
- Complaints of stomach pain or headaches or feeling unwell
- Excessive crying
- Refusing to go to crowded places
- Being clingy
- Constantly moving or fidgeting
- Constantly biting on things (such as clothes, nails, pencils)
The beauty of not being labeled as an “Anxious Child”!
One of the advantages of seeing an art therapist is that there will be no labeling. Emotions will be named and expressed during the sessions. Children will learn alternative ways of thinking and behaving in the face of stressful events. Also, because they can openly talk about uncomfortable events, without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, their feelings will be normalized, which then helps them focus on the negative thoughts.
To find out more about the benefits of art therapy for children with anxiety, visit http://www.montrealarttherapy.com
By: Reyhane Namdari