I've been practicing for 24 years and 18 of them have been in pediatrics. In school, we are taught to set goals based on function such as dressing yourself, brushing your own teeth, better handwriting, etc. However, we weren't taught the importance of a centered, calm, and mindful person. That anxiety can hold a child back from meeting the very goals set for them.
Anxiety in children can cause many areas of difficulty such as their whole way of thinking. For example, the anxiety they feel appears to them as too great to overcome therefore creating more anxiety.
As far as physical harm, anxiety in kids causes them to avoid situations that they feel will add to the anxiety therefore they miss out on situations of learning such as making a new friend, trying a new climbing toy on the playground, etc.
It also causes headaches, stomach aches, sleeping difficulties including trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and once asleep, trouble staying asleep. It can also cause diarrhea, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and tiredness.
Now, I have a couple of kids on my caseload at the moment that have what is called a retained reflex. This means reflexes that were supposed to have integrated before 7 months old or so but don't. When they are still hanging out at 6 or 7 years old, that's when you see a lot of trouble.
One of the most difficult retained reflexes to still have is what is called the Moro/Startle Reflex. This reflex is present at birth and should be integrated by the time the child is 4 months old or so. This reflex is an involuntary reaction to threat and is the earliest form of "fight" or "flight." If this reflex fails to integrate at 4 months old, a child will retain an exaggerated startle reaction which may result in continued hypersensitivity to light, sound, movement, or alteration of position or balance may elicit the reflex at any moment or unexpected moments so that the child is constantly on alert and in a heightened an uncomfortable state of hyper-awareness.
The other part of this is the release of adrenalin and cortisol-the stress hormones- being in such a state, which increase sensitivity and reactivity so that both the trigger and the response are built into the system.
The Moro/Startle Reflex is one of the hardest ones to treat.
Because of this reflex, I have decided to add yoga to my treatment treasure chest. Treating the whole child means not just helping them to learn to tie their shoe, feed themselves, have a stronger core, better sensory integration skills, or better handwriting . . . no . . . it means the emotional part too because it all matters, all of it, especially the anxiety, which can act just like the reigns on a stage coach. When you pull back on those reigns, the horses either slow down or stop. This is what happens to development if the whole child is not treated and thanks to a very special young man on my caseload, I have seen the light.
Thumbs up sweet fella!! :)