The world can sometimes be a confusing and daunting place for children, and in some cases, this can lead them to develop issues with anxiety. If you’re considering pursuing child and youth worker training, you will learn how to provide frontline treatment to children and youth who may suffer emotional challenges like anxiety disorder. As such, knowing how to identify the signs of anxiety in children is the first step towards assisting in their treatment.
Read on to learn just a few of the signs that can indicate a child may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Children with Anxiety Frequently Avoid Situations that are Triggering
Some children try to cope with their anxiety by avoiding triggering situations entirely. A child suffering from social anxiety disorder, for instance, will often find ways to avoid interacting with other children. For example, the child may claim they are sick to avoid going to a birthday party that they were invited to.
Avoiding these types of situations doesn’t treat the root cause of the anxiety and can sometimes make it worse. Avoidance can also make it harder for adults to recognize when a child has anxiety, which can lead to delays in diagnosing and treating the issue. Once you begin your career helping children, it’s important to be on the lookout for a child who is avoiding certain situations repeatedly, as this may be occurring due to anxiety.
Child and Youth Worker Training Teaches You to Recognize Disruptive Behaviour in Anxious Children
Children with anxiety can often exhibit disruptive behaviour, such as explosive outbursts, for example. While it is common for children to occasionally have outbursts, such as tantrums, those with anxiety may have a pattern of outbursts which can last more than 6 months. For instance, a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)—which is classified as an anxiety disorder by the World Health Organization—may have outbursts whenever their classmates do not put their toys away in a precise manner or do not enter or exit the classroom in a specific way. Such disruptive behaviour can be difficult for adults to understand and many times they may presume that simply punishing the child will solve the problem.
However, at child and youth worker college, you will learn that punishment is rarely an effective way of helping children through their anxiety-linked disruptive behaviour, since it does not address the root cause of the behaviour. In some cases, outbursts in class may simply be how a child reacts to a stressful situation at home, such as a divorce or the death of a pet.
Obsessing Over Unrealistic Scenarios Can Be a Sign of Separation Anxiety
Another sign that a child may possibly be struggling with an anxiety disorder is when they obsess over situations that are unrealistic or far into the future. For example, some children with anxiety may worry about their parents passing away, or about a natural disaster occurring. This type of worrying is often associated with separation anxiety disorder (SAD), where a child may refuse to be separated from their parents and could even suffer panic attacks if separate for just a short period of time. SAD is the most common anxiety disorder seen in children under the age of 12.
SAD is often a reaction to an event that is difficult for children to understand and process, such as moving to a new school or hearing a distressing story in the news like a kidnapping or a fatal car accident. Showing empathy towards children suffering from SAD—rather than getting upset with them—and using the techniques you will learn in child and youth worker training can help them cope better.
Are you interested in pursuing a career where you’ll have the opportunity to help children?
Contact KLC College to learn about our child and youth worker course!