Childhood anxiety has become much more prevalent in the last decade. Aside from the “normal” kinds of fears kids have, like being frightened by the sound of thunder, by being in the dark, or the monster under the bed, there can be other more serious fears that remain with them as they grow.
If you have wondered how to help your child with their anxiety, we are here to offer some guidance.
Childhood Anxiety Disorders
Beyond the typical fears children have when they are very young, there are more extreme fears known as anxiety disorders. There are several types:
- Generalized anxiety disorders, or GAD, cause children to stress and be anxious about many different things on a daily basis.
- Separation anxiety disorders, or SAD, are when children are fearful of leaving their parents or caregivers even for a few minutes. This can be typical of very young children, but if it persists beyond age 3, it can be more serious causing children to not go to school or to do anything by themselves.
- Social anxiety disorder occurs when children are afraid of being the center of attention. They fear anything social and especially what others will think of them.
- Selective mutism is a phenomena where children will talk at home and with close familiar relatives, but will not talk with strangers or in unusual places.
Signs Of Anxiety
Often times, children with anxiety have low self esteem, experience academic trouble in school, and depression as they get older. In addition, there are other specific signs to be aware of.
If your child avoids what causes him or her anxiety, this is only a short term solution, and can lead to additional poor coping skills.
Obsessive worrying is another clear sign of anxiety. In this situation, your child talks about a fear quite often and it may not even be something imminent, such as having a dental appointment in three months.
If your child refuses play time, going outside, or to a school event because they fear a dog might be there, this is a sign of a specific fear.
When a child’s fears interfere with their normal life, it may be time to talk with Elmwood Pediatric Group about mental health appointments.
How To Help Your Child
First and foremost, be sure you have your own anxieties under control. As an adult, we usually can hide them better than children. Be sure to stay calm during a child’s anxiety attack or fearfulness.
Acknowledge and validate their fears, but don’t let them give in to them. Help them see it will pass.
Prepare your child for anything new or changes in schedule. The more they know and understand about what will happen, it will ease their fears.
Encourage them to take small steps to overcome their anxieties and reassure them when they succeed.
Contact Elmwood Pediatric Group at (585) 244-9720 for additional guidance about how to help your child with anxiety.