Understanding Anxiety Disorders In Children
It’s normal for children to feel anxious about things at different ages. Some could have specific fears in their early childhood like animals, insects, darkness, and heights. This is normal, and they get over it as they grow older.
Anxiety becomes an issue when it starts affecting their daily activities. It can harm the child’s mental and emotional well-being if it goes untreated.
Types Of Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
This is when children worry about various things like family problems, relationships with friends and siblings, and performances at school.
- Social Anxiety Disorder:
This gives intense fear of social and performance activities. If a child isn’t treated early, it could affect their performance at school and ability to make and maintain relationships.
- Panic Disorder:
This is when a child has an intense physical reaction to stress and tries all they can to avoid reacting that way which could be crying, hyperventilating, and chronic worrying.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder:
It’s common for children between 18 months and three years old to feel anxious when their parent leaves them alone in a room. It may also occur to children at an older age, who always take a long time to calm down.
Symptoms To Look Out For
Parents might not notice these symptoms in their children because every child has different ways of reacting to things.
Also, you need to understand the type of anxiety they are presenting. Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- Choking sensation
- Extreme fears of specific situations that last for six months
- Intense heart rates
- Panic when separated from parents
- Constant physical complaints
- Avoiding school classes
- Few close friends outside the family
- Avoidance of social situations
- Extreme in meeting and interacting with people
Treating Anxiety Disorder
Early treatment can prevent future casualties or difficulties like low self-esteem and failure to reach academic potential and goals.
Also, consider getting an evaluation from a medical professional to understand your child better.
Doctors may prescribe medications to ease the anxiety symptoms your child is presenting.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy:
This type of therapy is where a child informs a therapist about their feelings and thoughts.
The therapist will then help the child to unlearn avoidance behaviors.
- Exposure Therapy:
This is a type of therapy where a child faces their fears or relives a moment that makes them anxious. This usually takes place in the therapist’s office.
What Parents Can Do
- Don’t avoid what your child fears, but help them overcome it, tolerate and unlearn avoidance techniques.
- Gradually expose them to the source of their fears:
Use relaxation methods to calm their fears, teach them to tolerate distress, and learn that there is nothing to fear or be anxious about.
- Comfort and present positive responses to them:
Listen attentively to them as they interact and reveal their worries to you. Don’t reinforce their fears or make them feel bad about it. Tell them you are always with them and will guide them through it.