Anxiety in children is difficult to differentiate from anxiety bound to a developmental phase. It is normal that children experience some level of anxiety due to a lot of changes during childhood. Especially during puberty anxiety can be experienced, but younger children also experience anxiety, such as anxiety caused by strangers.
Thus, it is not always easy to know what excessive anxiety is and how one as a parent should deal with this. To help you with this, this article sums up normal anxiety and when it becomes a disorder. Furthermore, we inform you about what treatment of anxiety in children entails.
What is normal anxiety in children?
At the hand of the different developmental phases, there are normal forms of anxiety to be found, which simply belong to the phase in which your child is. Below, you can find the examples on what normal anxiety in children can be per the age phase.
Between 0 to 6 months of age, it is normal that babies are anxious about loud noises, sudden approach by other people or the loss of support.
Between 6 to 12 months of age, it is normal that babies are afraid of height and/or depth, stranger people and objects, as well as the fear of being separated from a parent.
Between 12 months and 2 years of age, children can be anxious about things from nature, such as storm or high waves.
Between 2 and 4 years of age, many children are anxious about touching animals or seeing blood.
Children aged 4 to 6 years old can be anxious about sleeping in the dark, monsters, or something changing about their body (for example when they have to go to the doctor’s or get their hair cut).
Children aged 6 to 12 years old are generally anxious about being judged by people their age. In this case, performance anxiety sometimes occurs. Children might get anxious about failing. Also, children at this age start to anticipate negative situations. For example, they think about what they would do if their parents were to divorce.
Youth from 12 to 18 years old are still anxious about being judged by same-aged peers, but now rather of the opposite sex. Moreover, fear of dangers that are not directly related to the child itself, such as fear of war, comes to the surface.
When do children have anxiety disorder?
We consider anxiety in children to be excessive if the child has been anxious from an early age. If this continues, we can speak of generalized anxiety disorder. A certain form of anxiety is normal, but if it happens too often and starts to dominate a child's life, we consider it to be an anxiety disorder.
In that case, your child has difficulties with staying in control of the situation. Also, after a while, your child might start to avoid certain situations. Although your child might know that there is no real cause for the anxiety, they still cannot calm themselves down.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder?
The following requirements should be met in case of an excessive form of anxiety in children and thereby an anxiety disorder (if the symptoms are present for an extended period of time):
- Your child experiences a constant level of anxiety or even panic.
- The anxiety will lead to avoidance behavior, which in turn can lead to depressive complaints after a while.
- Your child is constantly tense and nervous.
- Your child is exhausted due to the constant tension and anxiety.
- Because of the anxiety, little energy is left for daily activities. This means that your child often is tired, causing certain tasks not to be performed anymore.
- Your child often also experiences muscular tension.
- Your child experiences issues sleeping.
- Your child cannot properly focus any longer.
- Your child often responds in an irritated way.
- Your child looks for reassurance from its environment a lot.
Anxiety in children can be very exhausting and affect the child in disproportionate ways. All areas of the life of the child can suffer from this.
Anxiety in children: treatment?
Anxiety in children can be treated. For this, there are several instances. Depending on the age, different approaches will be taken to treat the anxiety in children. Each age category namely requires a different approach of the therapeutic techniques on which many anxiety treatments are based.
"15Minutes4Me.com" offers a treatment of anxiety in children in the shape of an online self-help program. Children with a broad vocabulary can follow the program daily, with some help of their parents, to thereby reduce and treat anxiety.
Anxiety in children: testing it?
Do you want to know if your child experiences an excessive form of anxiety in children and is your child's vocabulary broad? Then they can always fill out the free anxiety test here.