The physiology of how anxiety manifests in the body and the stress it causes the child can lead to the very real experience of recurring illness that requires them to repeatedly see a doctor, or for the parents to wonder if the child is really sick or not.
Children may be experiencing anxiety for a variety of reasons. Often there is a parent that has anxiety, or is prone to feeling anxious. It can also be a reflection of what is going on in the child’s environment: there may be high stress situations at home, financial or emotional stress, that even though the child may not understand the complexities of, they intuitively know something is not right and it impacts them. Especially with young children who still largely rely on nonverbal communication to figure out what is going on – they do not need to be told or even to understand what mum or dad are stressed about, they just know something is not quite right. This is exponentialised by children who have experienced trauma or highly stressful situations such as a family death, accidents, family breakups, illness or abuse.
Lastly, in today’s fast paced society where many people feel highly strung juggling life, and most of us are stressed, our children are simply reflecting their environment. Adults often feel like they are on the treadmill of life, and the lack of connection and peace that we are experiencing is filtering through to our children at a younger and younger age.
If you think your child has anxiety, or many of these signs or symptoms are true of your child, please know that help is available. In my experience, we have largely been able to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the symptoms and the impact of anxiety on your child’s ability to have a normal and enjoyable life. Children are highly resilient and can thrive and grow with sometimes the smallest changes and a positive approach to helping them when an issue like this is identified. When most parents realise what is going on, we are able to provide positive, long term solutions that help the entire family unit.
Dr Adeela Afiz is based in Auckland, NZ, and works nationally as well as internationally as a behavioural specialist, life and business facilitator and body worker. She specialises in helping people, including babies and children who are struggling with behavioural or emotional issues, worldwide. www.dradeelaafiz.com