The Growing Phenomenon of Anxiety in Children

Autism spectrum disorder symptoms

The growth of anxiety disorders has been a growing concern worldwide. According to the Belfast Telegraph, this has been no less true for Northern Ireland, where approximately 50 children are being referred to a specialist each and every week.

This is no anomaly — in fact, the statistic is in line with larger, national statistics for the UK. So what is behind the prevalence of anxiety symptoms in children, right now? According to the experts, there are a few likely causes for the phenomenon.

The Smartphone Era of Childhood

One notes issue is how technology is shifting the boundaries of children’s daily lives. If bullying happened at school, in the past, it generally stayed at school. But today, children can continue to berate each other long through the night thanks to texting and social media posting. It can often feel like the pressure is never ending. Sometimes, the inability to disengage from these devices is stressful in its own right.

Parents are On Their Phones, Too

Another issue is a continued breakdown in communication between children and adults — and the conversation often circles back to technology, surprisingly.

While most people easily acknowledge the potential risks for anxiety and attention issues when it comes to the increasing usage of electronic devices among children, many don’t realize that it affects parents, too.

Is Anxiety Medication Always Necessary?

Billie Hughes, the Children’s Services Manager at Belfast Beechcroft Child and Adolescent Impatient Unit, sees this problem frequently. She notes that parents are often unintentionally ignoring their children, and not helping to provide the basic groundwork for understanding social interactions. She notes that often, when she comes down to the waiting room of the clinic, children are waiting nervously while the parents “are flicking through their phones” rather than interacting with them.

According to Hues, re-engaging with children can be as simple as taking the time to talk to them, laugh with them and make small behavioral changes in order to experience what can be a fairly swift change in how the child is experiencing anxiety. It’s a process of re-learning how to interact with one’s kids — and listen to them. For some, this type of mental health counseling may be more than enough, and anxiety medication will not be needed to treat the problem.

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