Anxiety in Children
Anxiety under certain situations is normal. For example, when a child is taking a test or when he or she is asked to speak or perform in front of an audience – these are situations where it is normal for children to experience some anxiety. But what if a child is always worrying, always anxious? When the anxiety of a child is disproportionate to the situation it can be termed as an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder in children is difficult to gauge because children are not very good at expressing their problems and anxious children are usually quieter. So how do you tell if a child has an anxiety disorder?
Types of Anxiety Disorders
General Anxiety Disorder – This is when a child worries almost every day over everything. Other than the usual things that children worry about, like homework or tests, kids with General Anxiety Disorder tend to worry about little things like playing with friends, riding the school bus or sometimes even about greater things like war or the climate or their loved ones’ safety. This makes them lose focus on school activities and have an effect on their general health as they tend to lose sleep and feel sick.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – This causes children to show certain obsessive, repetitive behavior called compulsions. Some examples of this kind of behavior are repeatedly washing one’s hands, always arranging personal belongings in a particular order or checking constantly if the door is locked. There are many other similar traits of this disorder unique to each person, which they might perform almost like a ritual.
Separation Anxiety Disorder – This is the anxiety an older child might feel when separated from a parent. This is completely normal in infants or toddlers but as a child grows older, he or she usually learns to be comfortable away from the parents. But children with Separation Anxiety Disorder will miss out on any other activity to stay close to their parents.
Social Anxiety Disorder – In this case, the child is too anxious of being judged when in a social gathering or performing in front of a crowd. They are too afraid of having all eyes on them and tend to panic or freeze under such situations. This might also lead to Selective Mutism in some cases, where a child chooses not to talk in a gathering although he or she speaks perfectly well at home or with family.
Specific Phobia – This is an intense, inexplicable fear of a certain thing which might not be fearful to others. For example, fear of thunderstorms, fear of heights or fear of closed spaces, to name a few.
Any anxiety disorder must not be neglected and professional help must be sought to deal with it. An experienced and qualified therapist can help your child develop coping strategies to combat anxiety. For some children, talk therapy combined with medication may be recommended.
Need more help?
The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services are available to help children and families experiencing anxiety disorders. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824.