3 Most Common Panic Attack Triggers for Children and Teens
If you have kids, you likely already know: life is hard! It is stressful, and there are plenty of things worth freaking out over. You are an adult, after all, so you would know.
And when you consider all that you deal with in life, it can be hard to empathize with the stress experienced by children. Of course we want to take care of and love our children as best we can, but when you are concerning yourself with managing a household and a mortage and a full-time job, etc., it gets more difficult to understand the stress your child is under worrying about a math test or their social life.
It’s important to remember that you have already lived through the things that they are experiencing. With time and distance, these things easily become farther and farther away in life’s rearview mirror, and you get perspective.
But your child is living through these things for the first time! And they are experiencing them simultaneously or in quick succession. As you know better than anyone as a busy parent, life can be overwhelming.
People of almost any age are susceptible to panic attacks, but children and teenagers especially are especially vulnerable. The daily pressure of schooling and all of the academic and social demands that come with it are compounded by the realization of changing bodies. It’s a perfect recipe for anxiety.
But there are some situations which lend themselves to a panicked child more reliably than others. Here are 5 potential panic attack triggers for children and teenagers so that you can stop the development of panic attacks before they escalate.
If you find that your child or teen is exhibiting symptoms of anxiousness or unease, keep tabs on physical symptoms such as nausea, appetite changes, and insomnia. These things might be indicative of a burgeoning anxiety disorder, and you should consult with a professional at your child’s school or teen anxiety treatment center.
This one is a no-brainer. Oftentimes, divorce can actually be a boon to a child’s wellness over time. After all, no one wants to live in the shadow of a tense and loveless marriage. It is better to set a good example for your children by pursuing happiness responsibly.
But the way you handle a child’s initial reaction is vital to the rest of their grieving process. As supportive or as content your child may seem with the news, a lifestyle change as large as a divorce will involve some extent of grief on the part of your child.
So take care that you balance giving your children space with giving them room to speak their piece. You should definitely shield them from any of the nitty-gritty of splitting finances or the technicalities of the divorce, but (so long as the information is age appropriate) being transparent about the process will go a long way in mitigating any feelings of helplessness.
Drastic, cross-country moves will necessitate more immediate and dramatic attention to mitigate potential panic in your children than moves just a couple houses down on the same street. Likewise, if your child has either only lived in one place their entire life or, ironically, has moved very frequently over the course of their young life, they will also require greater care.
There is a good chance your child will adjust to life in their new home in time. Things like divorce might complicate the process, but there is always hope. However, you definitely want to get ahead of escalating anxiety before it peaks into full blown panic attacks. It is important to utilize community resources and seek mental health outpatient treatment if necessary.
Social Conflict or Bullying
Again—seems obvious, right? But there is actually a huge difference between bullying and the standard social conflicts all adolescents experience. We are naturally predisposed to supporting our own children, so it is easy to write off other children involved in any adversity our children face as villains or in the wrong.
We all know that the world is not so black and white, though, and so it is important not to blindly follow our children in any and all things they do. There are so many reasons that youths will get into skirmishes with one another that are inexplicable to the adults in their lives. Our job as parents is not to try and understand the intricacies of our childrens’ social problems, but to understand our children and offer them unconditional love as they navigate their own way.
So while you shouldn’t play helicopter parent to your child’s every social strafe, you need to be close enough that you can recognize unhealthy behaviors or patterns in your child or teen’s friendships. Bullies can often masquerade as friends, even when the bully in question doesn’t intend to cause damage. Giving your child’s relationships healthy boundaries and structures can help prevent complexes or anxiety disorders which give way to panic attacks.