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Anxiety in Children - When is It Normal?
No. 47 (Updated 6/2011)

Anxiety in children is normal to a point, and in certain circumstances. For instance, most children become a little anxious about a new turning point in their lives such as starting daycare or kindergarten. The experience can be a bit frightening as children are in a strange place and around people they have never seen before. When it comes to anxiety in children, what's normal - and when should you worry?

Most parents are perceptive enough to know when there is a real problem. Much of the anxiety children suffer is only temporary, such as when they have watched a frightening movie and have trouble sleeping. The real problem comes when a child seems to be anxious much of the time and there is no apparent reason for the anxiety. When a child suffers from an anxiety disorder, they suffer in other areas of their lives. Many have trouble forming friendships and perform poorly in school. It can be a life disrupting experience.

Children who suffer from anxiety are more likely to become depressed or suffer from other disorders. They're also at greater risk of developing drug abuse or alcohol problems as they grow older and become teens. If you feel that your child suffers from an abnormal amount of anxiety that is much more far-reaching than a little case of nerves, quick action should be taken to get the problem under control.

It is definitely hard for a parent to watch their child struggle with anxiety. There are some things a parent can do to help with the child's anxiety, such as coaxing the child to talk about it. Once your child has shared what is making them anxious or fearful, you can help devise a way to relieve some of that anxiety. Never make fun of your child, and realize that their fear is real.

Never cater to your child's fears, as this will not help them address their anxiety head on. For example, if you always go the long way around because your child is afraid of dogs, this will only teach your child that dogs should be avoided.

You can also help your child with coping strategies that can be taught at home. While it's best to consult with your physician when your child has anxiety problems it is important that parents participate and be part of the solution as well.

Is your child's anxiety a normal part of the growing process in experiencing new things, or is it more? If you have real concerns, talk to your child's pediatrician and learn more about coping skills you can do with your child.

This article was written by Tim Manasterski, a staff member.

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