Kids don’t tell you that they have anxiety; they say ‘My stomach hurts’! 

Many children complain of some sort of pain before a sports game or a big test – this is when their anxiety and stress levels are at an all-time high. This might not be an immediate concern for some parents, however others might not know that it may be a sign of anxiety.

A gastroenterologist from Seattle Children’s, Dr. Nicole Sawangpont Pattamanuch, discusses the symptoms of abdominal pain associated with anxiety and stress, shares red flags to help parents determine if there’s something more concerning to their kid’s symptoms, and recommends coping techniques for children to relieve their discomfort.

Children often experience problems such as stress and other negative aspects of reality. Mental disorders among kids are described as a serious change in the way they typically behave, learn or manage their emotions.

Some of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in childhood include behaviour disorders, anxiety, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. But many parents are sceptical or shocked at the number of children that suffer from these problems.

Parents may ask questions like, “What are children depressed about?”. This question is a misunderstanding as to what anxiety is. This sort of misunderstanding is part of the reason that mental, behavioural and emotional disorders in kids are severely untreated and undiagnosed.

Lack of understanding from parents can have a great impact on kids. A child does not always know what is wrong or abnormal, particularly if they have always felt a certain way.

Signs that show your kid has anxiety:

  • Behavioural signs of anxiety

–       They say “I cannot do it!” with no reason

–       They constantly seek approval from other people

–       They become angry or emotional when separating from loved ones

–       They avoid social situations with peers after school or on weekends

–       The remain silent when they are expected to work with others

  • Emotional signs of anxiety

–       They have tantrums or meltdowns

–       They act extremely sensitive

–       They often cry

–       They worry about small things a lot

–       They have panic attacks

  • Physical signs of anxiety

–       They have hard time falling asleep or staying asleep

–       They tense their muscles

–       They sweat or shake in intimidating situations

–       They refuse to eat

It is important to understand that a lot of these behaviours alone are simply part of childhood and life, but you need to build an environment where your child is comfortable talking about their emotions. If your child needs a change of pace, you need to try some outdoor activities to stimulate their brain.

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