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Signs of Stress, Anxiety in Young Children and Adolescents

Children may not have jobs, bills to pay or a mortgage to worry about, but that does not mean they do not experience stress. In fact, an extensive survey from a few years back found that 36% of children say they worry more than they used to, yet only 23% of parent think that this might be the case.

What do kids have to worry about? Lots of things. They could be dealing with conflicts from their peers, siblings or adults in their life. A little over a third say that “doing well in school” is a constant source of stress. In addition, they may feel unfulfilled through their regular activities, or they have too busy of a schedule to squeeze in things that make them feel enjoyment. Family issues can also trickle down to children. One in five kids ages 8 to 12 say that “my family having enough money” is a key point for stress. Conditions like ADHD or PTSD can even trigger stress without any significant underlying factor.

So, the stressors are there, but how can parents recognize it? More importantly, what can they do about it?

Parents concerned about their children’s stress can read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of stress, and discover possible treatments, including chiropractic care for child anxiety.

Possible Signs/Symptoms of Stress or Anxiety in Young Children

Picking up on symptoms of stress in children can be much harder than in adults. For one thing, children are unable to express complex thoughts or describe their feelings as ably. Although children often have a reputation for being blunt, they can still withhold information or misunderstand their own internal thoughts.

Another issue is that expression in children seems a lot more varied. By the time a child reaches college and is preparing to enter the career world, they will have learned a more generalized set of skills and expected behaviors to help them cope with stress. But, as children, they may be more prone to “eccentric” behavior as they learn, explore and express themselves devoid of common expectations. What may be “weird” in one child could be perfectly healthy in another.

All of these challenges notwithstanding, parents can still look out for tell-tale signs of stress:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
    • Moodiness when the child used to be happy
    • Child is more prone to fear, anger or hyperactivity than before
    • Child begins adopting nervous habits, like hair twirling, nose picking, thumb sucking or chewing
    • Child becomes less prone to expressing emotion in general
    • Child talks back or exhibits more defiance than usual
    • More prone to exaggerations, lies or indulgence in fantasy
    • Talks to herself/himself more often
  • Outbursts and mood swings
    • Sudden bursts of anger or sadness
    • Oscillation from high emotion to calm in quick swings
    • Prone to random hyperactivity or unusual behavior that quickly subsides
    • Suddenly uses swear words or yells loudly
    • Overreactions to minor problems
  • Destructive behavior
    • Breaking toys
    • Picking at their body
    • Damage to property
    • Aggressive behavior during play
    • Cruelty to animals or others
    • Stealing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Withdrawal from friends or normal activities
  • Unexplained aches, pains, nausea or vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Bedwetting
  • Sulking
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Problems concentrating
  • Persistent reduction in expression of positive emotions

Parents should not just rely on observation during their normal interactions with their children, either. Pay close attention to how they interact with peers, their siblings or engage in play by themselves.

While small examples of the above behaviors might be part of normal development, an appearance of a pattern or intensifying negative behaviors can point towards stress-related conditions like anxiety or PTSD.

Possible Treatments, Including Chiropractic Care for Child Anxiety

Your first priority is diagnosing your child’s condition with the help of a medical or psychiatric professional. The child may have an underlying ailment triggering their reaction, or a pattern of negative, stressful or traumatizing experiences may be taking their toll.

One possible avenue for diagnosing and intervening in stress-related conditions is to have your child examined by a children’s chiropractor. Often, misalignments in the spine and skeletal structure impede natural nerve flow, leading to latent pain, discomfort, lack of mobility and other issues. Even if these issues are not the root cause of your child’s stress, they can greatly add to it and create a vicious cycle.

You can explore your options for treating your child’s stress through chiropractic care when you book an appointment today. By working with other medical professionals and correcting spinal misalignments, your child can be on the path toward a more positive, less stressful life filled with lasting wellness.

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