Is Your Child Having Problems Sitting Still? Here’s How to Deal With Restlessness

Last Updated: December 2020

Maybe it started with a nervous twitch. Chances are good that your daughter or son didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out to them. They can’t sit still. Even when they try, there is this nervous kind of energy, especially in their arms and legs.

If they really concentrate, they can keep their arms and legs from moving. But then they can’t concentrate on what you, their friends, or even their teachers are saying.

It is this restless, unsettled feeling that just doesn’t go away. Is it restlessness? Why can’t they sit still?

How Anxiety Can Be More Than Just Anxiousness

There are actually so many reasons our bodies experience restlessness. But one of the reasons we have labeled is anxiety.

There is a common misconception that anxiety the emotion is the same as anxiety the condition. To be fair, there are similarities. However, one is temporary and based on environmental factors, while the other is a physiological condition that is lasting and can be influenced by an environment, but may not be based on anything going on around us at all.

It is important to separate the two because people have a tendency to say things like “Don’t worry” if we tell them our teen daughters or sons have anxiety. This is a great opportunity to educate them and tell them that your child is not worried. Most likely, he or she is not consciously thinking of anxiety at all. Rather, your loved one has a medical condition that causes their body and mind to behave in certain ways. The condition is a physiological one that has a lot of different causes, none of which they can just stop worrying about and the symptoms will go away. That’s not the same thing at all.

For example, these are a few of the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  1. Chest: Your teen’s chest can feel heavy, their lungs may feel tight, and it may be harder for them to breathe. 
  2. Heart: Their heart rate increases and it can feel like their heart is pounding right out of their chest.
  3. Limbs: They might feel pain, pressure or restlessness. It can feel like their limbs are tight or that they are swollen, but they are not. 
  4. Stomach: Their stomach can feel knotted, nauseated or like they want to just curl up into a ball.

These are just some of the physical symptoms they may experience with anxiety, but it can manifest itself in many ways. The intense, really severe anxiety episodes are known as panic attacks. Sometimes these are so crippling your child cannot even move. In these situations, they may have to seek immediate medical care just to even be able to function again.

How to Help Take Control Back

We didn’t ask for this, but we don’t have to settle with your loved one’s life being filled with discomfort, pain and restlessness, either. The first thing to do is to see a doctor. A psychiatrist specializes in anxiety and other medical conditions located in the brain.

You can talk to your doctor about the symptoms your child is having, how often they are having them, and if you notice a pattern or situations that trigger the symptoms worse than normal.

For example, many people experience physical anxiety in social situations. Not just the nervousness we feel when we talk to someone, but uncontrollable physical symptoms like those listed above.

If your child has social anxiety, for instance, that could be triggered by meeting new people, being in social situations like at parties, or working with groups at school or work.

Medical professionals may have many treatment options, but when your daughter or son has a specific form of anxiety, therapy is particularly helpful, often in conjunction with medication or other forms of medical treatment.

In particular, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can be very beneficial. This therapy technique emphasizes living in the moment and learning to cope with stress, which is helpful in teens with anxiety. Additionally, your child can learn how to manage their own emotions better and improve communication with others. DBT is also great for people who have used substances and/or have co-occurring disorders because it focuses on the root of their problems and puts your daughter or son in control of their mental health.

Ways to Live Better With Anxiety and Restlessness

As with all mental health conditions, our lives are better when we address the issue instead of pretending it is not happening. We cannot afford to get caught up in the stigma or worry about what people think about your child’s treatment. We do not need to add to our anxiety with outside worries. You can help your daughter or son live their best life when you acknowledge what is happening in their bodies and bravely seek help.

Anxiety has so many symptoms that affect teenagers already. Left untreated, the symptoms, like restlessness, can get worse and can lead to bigger, more serious health issues. Anxiety can also lead to substance use, which can also lead to anxiety, even after your child stops using substances. It really is up to you to make the best choice for your daughter or son’s life. 

If your loved one is living with anxiety, it does not have to mean not being able to sit still. It doesn’t have to mean living with pain or pressure, or a pounding heart or trouble breathing. Living better means that your child can take their life back. You can find a doctor or mental health professional, develop a treatment plan for your daughter or son, and then they can learn new skills to help him or her manage their symptoms better. You can make the call today to change their lives tomorrow.

Help your child learn to manage anxiety and live better by contacting Embark Behavioral Health today. Their life deserves to be free.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit