Childhood Anxiety

If you are a parent with a child that has a child that complains about stomach and head aches, restlessness and fatigue, they are demonstrating typical symptoms of anxiety.  It is thought by the doctors at Johns Hopkins that as many as 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 16 may be having this experience.
I know that I have seen it in the many different children I have seen over the years.  One child as I went into the classroom and sat in front of them looked up at me and started crying and said “I can’t do this.”.   Many needed multiple visits to the school and watch with their mom close by before they would venture out on to the floor to have a great time once they got started.
There are times though where it is far more debilitating for the child.  According to Dr. Ginsburg “avoidance is a huge red flag.  Parents should not try to accommodate that, but need to help their child manage and face their anxiety.”

There are 3 types of anxiety disorders.

Separation – marked by the demonstration of stress when separated or about to be separated from a loved one.
Social – fear of being watched, judged or laughed at, or a concern about doing something that would embarrass themselves.
Generalized – exaggerated tension about everyday problems.  They may constantly need to be reassured.

Parents can help by not playing into the fears by coddling with over protection or avoiding situations.  This will only be counterproductive and disrupt the child’s ability to learn and cope with the world that we live in.  As parents we need to be careful not to be over anxious ourselves, because this will be quickly learned by our children.
The best way to deal with anxiety is to face it as much as possible.  Soon they will learn that they are strong and can do things that they did not believe that they could.  Oh yes they may fail at times.  That is a good lesson too, we do not succeed every time we try something.  We learn when we fail and try again.  Its all a part of growing up.
I can say though that if the issue is more than you as a parent feel like you can handle it is important to get help for your child and yourself, as you learn how to help your child.
More information on the subject: “Anxiety Disorders in Children and Teenagers

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