Kids who appear oppositional are often severely anxious

Posted on: 5th November, 2018

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Amanda Roe provides mind and body solutions for stress, anxiety, trauma, pain and psychosomatic illnesses. She helps adults and children to resolve behaviour issues, achieve a successful mindset and overcome compulsions. Amanda can be contacted at 087 6331898.

It is common for children with undiagnosed anxiety to be disruptive at school, where demands and expectations put pressure on them that they cannot handle. It can be very confusing for teachers and other staff members to ‘read’ that behavior, which may seem to come out of nowhere. It is also very confusing and upsetting for the child.

A thought, word, action or a situation can trigger an emotion and feeling. Emotions that frequently accompany anxiety are anger, embarrassment, fear, worry, overwhelm, frustration, feeling trapped and a loss of control. Anxiety is complex, as it can be accompanied by a number of emotions and the feelings are expressed physically in the body in a multitude of ways. Each combination is unique to the person and is not always the same combination.  However what is common to everyone who experiences anxiety is that the unconscious fight/flight/freeze response of the sympathetic nervous system is activated and their ability to think clearly is reduced. This is why it can be difficult to reason with an anxious child and why it is confusing and difficult for them to identify it for themselves.

Some physical symptoms many of us will recognise are butterflies in the stomach, a racing heart, dizziness, trembling, sweating, difficulty breathing, pressure or pain in the chest, going weak at the knees, numbness and tingling sensations, feeling detached from reality, confusion, an overwhelming feeling of fear or that you are in danger, an urgency to escape and a feeling of losing control.

Everyone will experience one or more of these feelings at some stage in their life but you can only image how confusing, upsetting and isolating any of these feeling would be for a child.

As a parent or teacher some of the indicators of anxiety to look out for are: A sudden need to go to the bathroom; feeling sick; feeling that something is stuck in the throat; colour drained from the face; emotional upset; inability to calm down; vomiting; sensitivity to light or sound; a need to walk, run or get away; difficulty sleeping.

As internal anxiety increases, this may lead to behaviours like aggression, clinging, a meltdown, temper tantrums, procrastination, hyper focus on details, seeing or hearing things, an immediate need to escape, disruptive behaviour and avoidance of certain activities. Anxiety is linked to many psychosomatic conditions including allergies, body jerks, pain, hyperactivity, OCD, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress and a long list of phobias

The good news is there are strategies that parents can use to help their children cope. If you see, hear or have a feeling that your child is struggling stop and think back to identify what events preceded the behaviour. Keep a diary of symptoms and possible triggers to help you make sense of what is going on.

So what is anxiety? The dictionary describes it as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. I think it is easier to identify anxiety when we are aware of the physical manifestations it has on our body.

Normally when we talk about feelings we talk about them one at a time.

If you would like support helping your child to feel better give me a call.


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