Icebergs are deceiving because what you see on the surface is usually only a small fraction of what lies below. Observing the behavior of an anxious child is sometimes like looking at the tip of an iceberg: underlying the anxious behavior are layers of emotions and experiences. Therapists often illustrate this idea with an image like this:
While the image above can be eye-opening, there’s a huge assumption that parents can actually recognize that tip of the iceberg or look at a child’s behavior and say, “Yup, that’s anxiety.” Here’s the reality: anxious behavior in children is not uniform.
Your child might ask repetitive questions for reassurance and no matter how many times you answer, the question repeats. You might have the perfect child at school that comes home and constantly picks fights with you or siblings. You may have a child that can’t focus, motivate, or even loses sleep at night. Or maybe your child is downright angry. Anxiety, in fact, can manifest in a multitude of forms. In our work at GoZen!, we see anxiety showing up 8 different ways. This makes the iceberg look more like this: