Did you know that one in seven children will suffer from a problem with anxiety before they are 18?
All kids will get nervous from time to time; being nervous about some things some of the time is very normal. However, an anxious child’s day is filled with tension and “what if’s?”
If you notice that your child is frequently nervous or worried and finds it hard to cope with any new situations, it may be that they are not just "nervous," but are suffering from anxiety.
It can be very important to talk to your children or teens about anxiety because many of them will not recognize it for what it is. Giving our kids information about anxiety can help reduce any confusion or shame they may be feeling.
There are ways to help manage anxiety and knowing this can make kids feel more in control and confident that they can learn to manage their anxiety.
What are Anxiety Disorders?
There are several types of anxiety disorders, and children and teens can have more than one type of anxiety disorder at the same time. Some types of anxiety disorders are:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition in which the child has many worries and fears about daily life. They will often have physical symptoms such as tense muscles, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and difficulty sleeping.
2. Panic Disorder
This is a severe type of anxiety disorder. While an occasional panic attack does not mean someone has a panic disorder, frequent panic attacks may be a cause for concern. The child may not want to go to school or leave the house at all because they are afraid something awful will happen to them.
3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is rare in children, but can develop after one or many episodes of serious emotional upset which may involve physical, emotional or sexual abuse. People with PTSD relive the traumatic event(s) long after they are over through nightmares or flashbacks.
4. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Social Anxiety Disorder is more likely to occur in teenagers than young children. They may worry about social situations, like having to go to school or having to speak in class. People with this disorder usually try to control their symptoms by avoiding the situations they fear.
5. Separation Anxiety
While separation anxiety is quite normal in very young children, sometimes older children and teens are very frightened of leaving their parents or caregivers, worrying that something bad might happen. Children with Separation Anxiety may refuse to go to school or they may be unable to go to sleep without a parent being present.
6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Children with OCD have frequent, uncontrollable thoughts ("obsessions") then they need to perform certain routines or rituals ("compulsions") to try to get rid of the thoughts. For example, a child who thinks their hands are always dirty may develop a repetitive and time consuming routine of washing their hands hundreds of times a day.
How to Talk To Your Child about Anxiety
If you think your child may be suffering from anxiety, there are ways you can help.
- Encourage your child to talk about their fears or worries
- Teach your child about anxiety
- Help your child recognize anxiety