A lot of people are surprised to learn just how common anxiety disorders in children are. While it is normal for kids to be anxious about many different things as they explore the world in front of them, an anxiety disorder is much more than that. Part of the problem is that an untreated anxiety disorder in childhood can often lead to anxiety in adulthood. Seeking treatment and getting it under control as early as possible will help your child feel better and can prevent potentially worse problems as they get older.
Anxiety is a mix of apprehension, worry, fear and distress, to varying degrees. When these feelings start to interfere with the child’s daily life at home, school or play, then it is time to seek professional help. One of the tricky parts is that children often have a difficult time expressing their feelings, either because they don’t understand their feelings, or because they don’t have the vocabulary to express them in ways that adults can understand.
Because children are often anxious of something, it isn’t always easy to tell if it’s a situation-specific thing, or an indication of a more serious problem. Add to that their difficulty in expressing feelings, and it can be next to impossible to figure out if your child is suffering from true anxiety. Observing them for a while and familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders in children will help.
If you think they may have anxiety, then a trip to their pediatrician or a counselor that sees children is a good start. As a parent you want your kid to be “healthy and normal”, but anxiety doesn’t make your child unhealthy or abnormal, it’s just a condition they have. The good news is that it can be treated in several ways.
At this point a lot of parents will throw up their arms and say they want their kids to be on medication. That’s a fair statement, and there is a very good chance that they won’t need any medication at all. The sooner the anxiety disorder is caught, the better, as it will be easier to master coping techniques for anxiety.
You will need to remain patient as your child works on improving their anxiety. It can be a long process, and some of the coping techniques take lots of practice. However, you can always take comfort in a few things: First, at least now you know what has been causing your child’s behavior. Second, anxiety disorders in children are much more common than most people realize. Third, now that your child is getting the help they need, they are that much closer to having a normal childhood, and a brighter adulthood, and that’s definitely a good thing.