ADHD anxiety in children can be a scary thing. Many of us, especially as adults, feel anxiety on some level. Children, on the other hand, should not feel overwhelmed by anxiety. Even in today’s fast paced world, children should still have an opportunity to just be kids without the fear of stress.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone can escape stress in our modern age. In fact, a recent survey indicates many teens experience stress at the same or higher levels than adults. For any parent, reading this information can be scary. How can parents even begin to address stress in our children when drowning in anxiety themselves?
ADHD and stress often appear side by side in people. This interesting connection can make the lives of parents and children all the more difficult. In order to fight back against stress in your child, you need to know what to look for. In this article, we want to go over the main things you should know about ADHD anxiety in children and how to address it well.
#1 Know the Sources of ADHD Anxiety in Children
In some ways, children today have a harder time than ever before. In many regards, children have to deal with more pressure to perform and succeed than any generation before. From sports to grades to social influences, children face numerous stress points on a daily basis.
To help address ADHD anxiety in children, you need to be on the lookout for common sources of stress for children with ADHD. While there exist many possible sources of anxiety, let’s briefly consider a few triggers. Many of these triggers might appear as emotional symptoms of ADHD which lead to overwhelming anxiety.
Not enough playtime
As adults, most of our lives revolve around work and business. This shouldn’t be the same way for our kids. Numerous indicators show us that playtime for kids has reduced significantly over the last half century while depression and anxiety have gone up. As parents, we should have concern over this.
Many adults find themselves stressed because they can’t find time to enjoy small things in their lives. Now our kids, more and more, find themselves faced with the same issue. To avoid causing more stress on your children, intentionally structure and plan for more playtime in their schedule.
Don’t restrict how your child plays. Rather, give them more time to play as they see fit. If you see your child overwhelmed by activity, look out for the underlying fractures from stress.
Fear of social interactions
Many people with ADHD struggle with social interactions. For children, this can present an even larger problem as they try to figure out who their own identities. Many times, children with ADHD struggle to follow conversations and instructions and as a result they find they can’t connect well with others.
Sometimes, this difficulty in social interactions leads to a greater issue of anxiety. As a result, a child with social anxiety might avoid any kind of social or group setting. They may also appear silent and reserved when around others. While this could be part of an introverted personality, you should be sure to keep an eye out for other indicators of anxiety.
If you think your child has a fear of social interactions, you can work to help them address their anxiety. For more information for addressing social fears, read our article on improving social skills for ADHD.
Fear of failure
Another fear that many with ADHD face on a daily basis is the fear of failure. Oftentimes, children with ADHD feel like they can’t do anything right. Due to their short attention spans and hyperactivity, many of these kids find themselves often in trouble both at home and at school.
This tendency to always get in trouble can lead to a number of issues from lying to bullying to deep seated worry that they can’t do anything right. Having ADHD can often make children feel isolated and alone when they continue to fail. Keep an eye out on how your child responds to getting in trouble or to just not getting things right. If you notice severe outbursts at getting in trouble, or your child just giving up on trying new things, you might suspect anxiety over failure contributing to the issue.
#2 Know the Signs of ADHD Anxiety in Children
Now that you know a few of the triggers for anxiety in children, you next need to know the signs to look for. Positively identifying ADHD anxiety in children may take some time and consideration. Many signs of anxiety might masquerade as other issues in your child’s life. In this section, we’ve outlined a few of the most common signs to look for to know if your child struggles with anxiety.
Before you can address anxiety, you really need to know if stress really is causing the issues. Consider the symptoms outlined below and whether or not you see evidences of stress. For further help in identifying anxiety in your child, try the self-test for generalized anxiety disorder found at this link.
One symptom which may indicate ADHD anxiety in children may include the start of mood swings that didn’t exist before. Mood swings or disruptive outbursts could be a sign of ADHD in general. If you have always noticed mood swings in your child as part of ADHD, then anxiety might not be a cause. On the other hand, if mood swings occur when they haven’t before or get worse, you might suspect anxiety as playing some part.
Mood swings arise out of anxiety for a number of reasons. Predominately, stress puts pressure on and strains one’s emotional capacity and mental processing. When someone becomes stressed over a situation they lose the ability to properly channel their emotions resulting in wide mood swings. For more information on mood swings caused by anxiety refer to the information in this article.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, you may feel like acting out is par for the course. Every child with ADHD has a problem with acting out, right? Well, this isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, acting out in general could play a role as just one of any number of regular ADHD symptoms. Then again, acting out could also point towards underlying anxiety.
One normally doesn’t view acting out as a result of anxiety, which could make the anxiety worse depending on how you react to the behavior. If the acting out arises from anxiety, stern punishment might make the stress worse. The typical child might withdraw when anxious, but some children go the other route towards the fight end of the fight or flight spectrum.
If your child starts acting out more than before or the episodes become more disruptive, you may want to consider stress as a factor.
Changes in sleep patterns
The reasons for sleep issues in children can vary across a number of factors. Any kind of change in the child’s physical environment or emotional sphere can influence their sleep. Additionally, a new medication or medication regimen, perhaps for ADHD, can cause sleeping issues.
Anxiety also presents itself as a common cause for changes in sleep patterns or issues for children sleeping. Sometimes you can distinguish anxiety as a cause if your child can’t fall asleep without you in the room, or is fearful of being alone. If you notice a significant change in sleep patterns combined with other factors, stress might have something to do with it.
Many things factor into bedwetting in children. Some of these factors might include genetics or environmental triggers. Many specialists believe that anxiety and stress don’t directly cause bedwetting. However, when anxiety rises up, a child who already wets the better might wet the bed more.
As a parent, you want to keep a close eye on things like bedwetting and its frequency. If you already deal with bedwetting, but it starts increasing without other explanation, you might look to anxiety as an underlying cause.
#3 Know the Ways to Treat ADHD Anxiety in Children
Addressing ADHD anxiety in children can be complicated. As we’ve discussed, many factors go into the causes of anxiety, and it may prove challenging to address each of the causes. Many times in addressing anxiety, you’ll want to seek out the help and advice of a professional such as a counselor or doctor. Along with their direction, you can decide the best way forward.
Part of addressing anxiety involves creating a healthy lifestyle and life environment where children feel safe and healthy. To start moving towards this goal, you might want to try to address some of the following issues. Addressing these items may help relieve ADHD anxiety in children, but they should just be a starting point for a more comprehensive approach.
Sleep plays a significant role in all of our lives. When we don’t get enough sleep, everything gets thrown off. Lack of sleep can contribute to health and psychological problems. If you suspect or know your child struggles with anxiety, you will want to do everything you can to make sure they get proper rest.
Poor sleep habits can oftentimes make stress worse in children. To combat this, you should make sure that your child has a healthy sleep routine. This means that every night they follow the same order of things and go to bed at the same time. You should make sure they have a well-balanced dinner at night and don’t spend too much time in front of electronic screens before bed.
If you think sleep time might be causing some of your child’s anxiety, you should try to talk them through their fears. You could even have your child write out their worries and fears in a notebook and then close the notebook at bedtime. This can provide a visible indication of the fears being shut away so they can sleep better at night.
We too often overlook the connection between our brain, how we feel, and our diet. What we put into our bodies can make a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves and how our brain processes stress. To help combat ADHD anxiety in children, you should make sure your child has a regular healthy diet.
To make diet work for you, you need to first realize that eating healthy can positively impact depression and anxiety. You can’t expect to feed your child junk and fast food on a daily basis and not to have them feel lethargic, tired, and anxious. Your child needs healthy foods to grow physically and mentally.
If you suspect your child might struggle with anxiety, look to see what their diet consists of. If they eat many of the worst foods for ADHD, work to turn their diet around. Try to plan out your child’s meals a week at a time. Be sure to feed your children plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other fresh options.
Turning your child’s diet around might help to turn their mood around as well. To help give your child an upper hand against feelings of anxiety, make sure you fuel them with the right foods.
One of the causes of stress in children that we covered earlier was not enough play time. Part of play should automatically involve active behavior and exercise. One of the reasons play is so important is because children get up and get moving.
In our modern world, children rarely exercise, which plays a role in greater levels of stress and anxiety. We know from scientific studies that exercise helps improve emotional well-being and limits stress.
For your kids, you want to encourage exercise as much as possible. Your kids should try to be active for at least 30-60 mins every day. This could include playing an organized sport, riding a bike, or just playing outside with other kids.
If you see signs of stress in your child, consider giving them a break from electronics and sitting around the house. They need physical activity, and, ultimately, it could help turn around feelings of anxiety.
We can never talk enough about the benefits of a regular ADHD daily routine. Many times the source of anxiety lies in uncertainty and fear. This might arise from fear of a new situation or uncertainty about one’s future or immediate environment. To combat fear of the unknown in your ADHD child, help them better organize their mind and life with a balanced routine.
A daily routine helps provide security for your child as they don’t have to worry about not knowing what to expect or what comes next. With a scheduled plan for each day, your child knows just what to expect and feels comfortable in the familiar process. If your child struggles with anxiety, consider if they have stress over an unstructured day.
Organization always presents itself as a difficulty for children with ADHD. Help your child with organization and possibly with preventing anxiety, by building out a daily and weekly routine.
#4 Know you’re not Alone in Facing ADHD Anxiety in Children
Oftentimes parenting can feel like a one or two person battle. As a parent, you face unknown enemies and struggles on a daily basis with your children. Many times, you just don’t even know where to begin to try to keep everything together.
Here at FastBraiin, we know that parenting an ADHD child can present challenges. Facing ADHD anxiety in children doesn’t have to unravel you, though. If you think your child struggles with anxiety, know that you’re not alone in facing and addressing it. You can use our free online resources for many great tips on facing anxiety or other issues.
We also recommend connecting with other parents who have ADHD children. You can do this in person with community groups around you or online with internet communities. Some good tips and suggestions on getting connected to support groups can be found in this article.
Ultimately, we hope that you feel empowered by this article to better face ADHD anxiety in children. Use this and other tools like it to better manage ADHD symptoms in your child on a daily basis.