Anxiety doesn’t just affect adults – it can be a real issue for our younger generations too. So child anxiety should not be taken lightly!
In fact it’s on the increase (especially over recent times) with latest estimates suggesting that up to a third of our children will suffer from anxiety before they reach the age of 18. Whilst it can affect kids of any age they’re at a significantly greater risk through adolescence and as the pressure to succeed and the effects of social media take hold.
It is therefore imperative that children of today be equipped with enough skills to help them cope up with the stresses, pressures and tricky emotions, which they are going to encounter frequently in todays world.
It goes without saying, if you are concerned about you child’s anxiety levels in any way you should always seek professional help and advice.
Just like adults, it’s completely natural for children to feel stressed, worried and concerned from time to time – it’s part of growing up and life in general. Child anxiety is different though and if you feel that it’s starting to affect your child’s welfare it’s time to step in as they may need a little help.
That first day at school, the spelling test, the sports competition … there’s so many situations and events that will trigger those normal, temporary, anxious feelings. They’re just normal and nothing to worry about.
At an early age too it’s completely natural for your child to show a separation anxiety towards parents and carers, a shyness in certain social environments and also to develop specific fears (usually the common ones like fear of heights, the dark, spiders etc) all of which will usually diminish as your child grows up.
Child anxiety goes beyond these normal feelings – it’s extreme fear and worry which normally changes your child’s behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits or mood so watch out for these tell-tale signs.
Anxiety only becomes a problem when it starts to interfere or affect your child’s everyday life. As a parent you need to watch out for the signs as your child may find it difficult to explain or communicate their feelings or what’s going on in their head.
Typical signs in younger children include difficulty sleeping, waking up in the night (often with bad dreams) wetting the bed, separation anxiety, irritability, angry outbursts and a general quietness or change in eating habits and mood.
Older children may show similar symptoms but, in addition may seem to lack in confidence, find it hard to concentrate, demonstrate a loss of appetite. Keep an eye on behaviour too – avoiding friends and everyday activities, hiding away in the bedroom and not wanting to go to school are all classic symptoms of a potential problem.
If you can get them to talk they may describe a fear of doom or dread that something bad’s going to happen.
Don’t ignore these signs. If you’re concerned then you must take action.
It’s also especially important that you help your child following any traumatic events such as a house move, a change of school, the death of a close friend or relative, a car accident etc. Left, unmanaged such events can have a lasting effect on their lives.
This is the anxiety developed by children when they have excessive attachment with an important person in their lives such as a parent. They do not like to be separated from their object of attachment, for example, a child would refuse to go to school without dragging the parent along. They would cling to the parent and cry when they step out of the house. They would not be prepared to sleep in a room without the presence of a parent.
Irrational fears of an object or a situation that are caused involuntarily without the presence of any discernible reason are called phobias. Phobias cause a large amount of distress in the child – in a way that it interferes with the normal daily life of the child. Common phobias experienced by children include fear of heights, dogs, injections, swimming, etc.
Children affected by this disorder develop excessive fears of social situations. They may be overtly embarrassed or conscious in front of people/strangers. They live in excessive fear about others’ criticism and feel easily humiliated. Their fears are so pronounced that they may altogether avoid situations such as social gatherings, parties, performing in public, and speaking to strangers/adults. Sometimes they may shun even going to school.
If children or teens are afflicted with this type of disorder, they are more than stressed and concerned about events that occur in daily life. They have unfounded fears about loved ones dying, occurrences of wars and other natural disasters, and are preoccupied with any other potentially negative event that could happen in their lives.
A child is said to have a panic disorder if he/she is repeatedly experiencing panic attacks. The child will also be excessively worried about experiencing the next attack. The child experiences fears about losing total control and even death. A host of associated irrational thoughts occur when he/she experiences the panic attack.
Adolescents and children sometimes have recurring obsessive thoughts that help them to develop very strange and compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are developed as part of an attempt to reduce the recurrence of obsessive thoughts and the ensuing anxiety. Strangely, compulsive behaviors that are observed in children affected by this disorder include repetitive checking, counting, washing of hands, obsessive feelings of cleanliness, excessive fear of contamination or contraction of a disease, etc., among others.
This expands to post traumatic stress disorder which may develop after a child witnesses a traumatic incident such as an accident or any other frightening event. Recurrent and vivid pictures of the horror, flashbacks, nightmares, etc., all cause undue stress to the individual.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it’s estimated that 7.1% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with anxiety. This number relates to cases that have actually been confirmed and diagnosed. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America look at things a different way and suggest that anxiety affects a massive 25.1% of children between the ages of 13 and 18 . The National Institute of Mental Health suggest it’s an even greater problem in the 13 to 18 year old adolesents category – the suggest that a massive 31.9% had an anxiety disorder but that it was only classed as severe in 8.3% of cases.
It seems to affect girls (38%) more than boys (26.1%).
High numbers we think you’ll agree? And, concerningly the trend is rising – Healthy Children suggest this is be due to increased pressure to succeed, recent unsettling world events (Covid Pandemic) and the effects of Social Media.
In view of the complexity and if you are particularly concerned we would always recommend you seek out professional help to start with.
Therapy is higly effective so we would always suggest utilising the services of a therapist who is experienced and specialised in child anxiety.
Don’t let your child’s anxiety continue to get in the way of the life they deserve. Learn how you can help your child BREAK the cycle of fear and take back the happy childhood they deserve!
The following program is specifically designed with child anxiety in mind. It’s a proven, award-winning and comprehensive system designed to quickly help your child overcome the anxious feelings that are holding them back from reaching their potential and show them how to be the secure, confident, and HAPPY kids they were meant to be!