Many adults wonder what children have to worry about. After all, they have all their basic needs met by others in the majority of circumstances. That said, the chief referral reason for child therapy revolves around a host of behaviors, symptoms, and interactions that will inevitably come to be diagnosed at Overanxious Disorder of Childhood. This same disorder is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder when applied to adults.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms of the overly anxious child and some of the presenting problems that may indicate this is going on.
Symptoms of the Overly Anxious Child:
Excessive anxiety or worry.
Difficulties controlling the anxiety or worry.
Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge. A state of fear without a precipitating event.
A state of being easily tired or fatigued.
Difficulty concentrating. Ones mind going blank. Inability to focus.
Irritability including anger.
Muscle tension, tenseness.
Sleep disturbances. Reported difficulties going to sleep, staying asleep, or obtaining restful sleep.
So what’s the big deal about having anxiety?
Anxiety robs a child of peace, joy, fun, and a childhood. Children who worry don’t have the luxury of engaging in the here and now except for moments stolen back from the state of anxiety present much of the time. Children who worry report unhappiness, dread concerning the future, and a constant sense that the next bad thing is about to happen. Some of these children will have panic states where they have trouble breathing or catching their breath, a rapid heart beat, and they easily cry, shout, or act out with anger due to the inability to hold all of this inside.
Children often try to explain their anxiety and worry to their parents. Most children and teens tell me their parents simply don’t understand. Parents tell their children it is a state of mind. They are told there is nothing to feel anxious about. Parents get angry at their child’s report of anxiety and often parents dismiss it all as an exercise in …
We don’t need to worry about forgetting. We have a part of the brain whose job it is to secure all information for future use.
“A student asked his Zen master how long it would take to reach enlightenment. “Ten years,” the master said. But, the student persisted, what if he studied very hard? “Then 20 years,” the master responded. Surprised, the student asked how long it would take if he worked very, very hard and became the most dedicated student in the Ashram. “In that case, 30 years,” the master replied. His explanation: “If you have one eye on how close you are to achieving your goal, that leaves only one eye for your task.” ~ From Alfie Kohn, A Case Against Grades.
This topic has surfaced off and on in recent years. Many parents want their children to evidence success at any cost. Let’s look at some of the issues.
A new year has just turned the corner. Many people in my clinical practice have voiced hope that 2014 will be an improvement over 2013. This last year was difficult for many. There were deaths, divorces, cancer diagnoses, financial problems, temporary setbacks, and major issues to address for many.
“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.” ~ Erich Fromm.
Loss permeates the experience of life. It follows us through our lifetime.
“You could run from someone you feared, you could try to fight someone you hated. All my reactions were geared toward those kinds of killers, the monsters, the enemies. When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give your beloved, how could you not give it? If it were someone you truly loved?”~ Bella Swan.
What is a child to do when mommy or daddy abuses, uses, or is dependent on drugs or alcohol?
Depression comes in many forms. Sometimes it appears in obvious formats, such as through a sad face or slumped head and shoulders, or even through little eye contact and the lack of a smile. These are the more obvious forms of depression, as it might appear on the outside. Let’s take a look at how depression looks in children and teens.
The children of parents with substance dependence and abuse problems suffer silently.
I believe in structure, boundaries, and limits for children. I also believe we do well to have fair limits placed on those we invite into our lives.
Tough love has become a common phrase used in many varying contexts. My worry is that tough love that is not mindful is like passing the buck.
“At the end, all that’s left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been able to throw anything away. Perhaps that’s why I’ve hoarded the world: with the hope that when I died, the sum total of my things would suggest a life larger than the one I lived.” ~ Nicole Krauss.
Hoarding, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and complicated grief coalesce to create an avalanche of chaos. I hear stories of children who beg their mother or father to not engage in behaviors that, even to a child, seem out-of-control. What are children to do about their parents who hoard?