World scarier for kids: Anxiety on the rise among kids and teens, Houston therapist offers advice for parents

HOUSTON It is estimated that one in eight children suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety can often interfere with emotional and academic development.

Dr. Hayley Stulmaker said since she started her practice, anxiety in children has been on the rise.

It’s what I did my research on interventions for children with anxiety and I saw that it was becoming much more common as the research showed and has even increased since then, which in some ways is unfathomable that she continues to be so mean. Dr. Stulmaker explained.

Signs your child may be suffering include:

  • Stomach pains

  • Headaches

  • Problems sleeping

Lots of nervous habits, like picking your nails, biting your nails, pulling your hair. Those kinds of things tend to be more physical manifestations of anxiety for some kids, she said.

Why the increase in anxiety?

Many mental health professionals argue that this is long overdue, avoiding blaming the pandemic. Although, many are quick to point the finger at social media sites and other unrealistic pressures on children today.

I think there are a lot of things that contribute to that, Stulmaker explained. I think even parents are just talking [events on the news], than being a little outside, even having to take preventive measures sometimes in schools because of things that have happened. I think just kind of exposure is one of the reasons, and I think in some ways the world is scarier for kids now. I think there is more pressure on schools to perform.

You know, with student testing, I know that’s been going on for a while as well, but I think that’s something that continues to increase and cause stress for kids. Then just kind of events around the world. I think kids hear about it at a younger age and they have to try to find ways to cope, especially when things aren’t really developmentally appropriate for them to know and have to deal with.

How can you help?

She says if you’re dealing with a specific fear your child is anxious about, like a school shooting, here’s what you can do to help.

It’s really challenging because you don’t want to give that false sense of security when we know the reality is that there is some risk in schools now, Stulmaker said. So there is no way to know if your child is really safe? But I don’t think it’s helpful to tell kids either, yes, they get scared and freaked out… I’m trying to find a balance. I think it’s important to understand a child’s developmental age and how they really understand what’s going on and be able to approach it that way. And being able to give facts while providing comfort. And saying things like, you know, yeah, you have these mock intruders and so those are scary and the reason they’re there is because we want to make sure you’re safe… It’s scary. It probably won’t happen. And you know what to do to be prepared.

For all children, the one thing that remains true is that parents must be real, keep calm, but not share.

Sometimes parents overshare. They believe children need all the details, especially when information is breaking or stories are breaking. That’s when I find the most problematic thing is to give a lot of detail, especially when you don’t really know what’s going on and that can create a lot of fear in children or it can make children afraid because of the ambiguity. that’s happening, Stulmaker said.

Give simple facts, stay calm and provide comfort.

General anxiety may be something your child will always deal with.

It’s not something that just goes away because anxiety is actually an adaptive emotion that we all feel keeps us safe, she said. If everyone wasn’t afraid or anxious, like we were all dead, we’d do really stupid things.

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