Anxiety is the most common emotional problem in children. Children with crippling worries about many things, big or small may deal with anxiety issues. Though this is normal for many children and adults, being aware of your children’s worries could help them in the long run.
Separation and social anxiety are the highest forms of children dealing with this mental illness.
Symptoms of separation anxiety include:
- constant thoughts and intense fears about the safety of parents and caretakers
- refusing to go to school
- frequent stomach aches and other physical complaints
- extreme worries about sleeping away from home
- being overly clingy
- panic or tantrums at times of separation from parents
- trouble sleeping or nightmares
Symptoms of social anxiety include:
- fears of meeting or talking to people
- avoidance of social situations
- few friends outside the family
Phobias are also a form of anxiety. A parent should NEVER dismiss a child’s fear.
Symptoms of phobia include:
- extreme fear about a specific thing or situation (ex. dogs, insects, or needles)
- the fears cause significant distress and interfere with usual activities
Other symptoms of anxious children include:
- many worries about things before they happen
- constant worries or concerns about family, school, friends, or activities
- repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or actions (compulsions)
- fears of embarrassment or making mistakes
- low self esteem and lack of self-confidence
Early treatment of anxiety can prevent future difficulties such as loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential and feelings of low self-esteem.
Psychotherapy, family therapy, medication and behavioral treatments are all treatments of anxiety. If anxiety becomes severe, parents should consider seeking an evaluation from a qualified mental health professional or a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Providing a loving, supportive and understanding home environment are always a good idea when dealing with anxiety.