The anxiety of a child should be of the utmost importance to a parent. Children exposed to stressors with which they are unable to cope develop, at a very early age, stress related disorders that will remain with them for a lifetime. Childhood stress can be used as a learning tool by the nurturing, caring parent. Children who experience separation anxiety, and all children experience this stress, are comforted when reassured that their feelings are valid and that the parent will indeed return and when that will happen. Teaching children critical thinking skills and how to self-comfort in times of anxiety helps them to handle stress as adults in a positive and healthy fashion. Something we see too little of in today’s world. Human beings are the only species on earth that expose their young to stressors with which they are not able to cope.
Different Manifestations of Children's Anxiety
Anxiety is a disorder that can take total control over one’s life and leave one feeling alone and helpless. When this disorder affects children, the situation become worse as the child is not able to distinguish fears which can be overcome.
Children’s anxiety symptoms are typical of any anxiety syndrome. They feel their heart is racing and their head is spinning. Often children have stomach aches and a lump in their throat. Children react to these symptoms in different ways. The younger they are, the more difficult it is to express their feelings and all they can do is cry. As they grow older, they throw tantrums, make excuses to avoid the stressor and often go into the stage of silent mutism.
Look Closely at Children's Anxiety
One of the earliest types of children’s anxiety is separation anxiety. This is seen in children between the ages of 18 months to three years. These children are often seen clinging to their mothers and have a great problem sleeping in their own rooms. Parents should expect a tussle when the child reaches school going age and should tackle the problem before that stage arrives.
Social anxiety disorders affect children in pre-school and grade school. It is a separation anxiety of a sort, where children refuse to go to school in fear of the social interactions. Often this children’s anxiety is more focused, as when the child is afraid of recess, the bus or the cafeteria. Proper evaluation should be done before any interventions, as often there is a specific teacher or class bully which is the root of the anxiety.
General anxiety disorders involve various aspects of the child’s life. This disorder peaks at the ages of seven to eleven years. It is seen as excessive worrying about some thing which may seem trivial to others. Children are often pre-occupied with their looks, sports, punctuality, cleanliness etc.
Specific phobias may affect children of all age. Almost all children are afraid of something or the other when they are young, but any phobia which lasts for more than six months and affects the child’s daily routine should be given utmost importance.
Medications should be the last resort for tackling children’s anxiety. With proper counseling and cooperation at home and school, these little ones can overcome this condition and can live the happy and carefree life, they are entitled to.
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