Worry in Children and What We Need to Know as Families
What is anxiety?
Worry is a term used by experts to describe the child’s fear and depression, when this distressing situation persists for a while. In some children, this situation occurs only in certain special situations. For example on the playground or before going to sleep. In some children, anxiety and worry that something bad will happen can occur in any situation, from going to school to being afraid of the dark. These can also be normal reactions. But if our children’s fear is more severe and intense than the situation warrants, we may need to worry.
Ways to understand our child how serious their concerns are:
Are our child’s worries the kind of worries other children have?
• It is normal for children under the age of three to react very strongly when separated from their parents. At the beginning of school age, most children may be afraid of insects, strangers, or ghosts. Teenagers can be shy and withdrawn. If our child’s fear is lasting much longer than being something that is more severe or momentary than the situation warrants, it is time to start thinking that our child has an “Anxiety” problem.
For example, a teenager who is consistently successful in school is worried that his studies will deteriorate.
Can our children express their feelings?
• Children often cannot explain their anxiety. Children find it difficult to talk about their fears or distress. Our responsibility as a family is to be aware of the changes in our children’s habits and how they cope with their feelings. For example, is our daughter becoming more withdrawn, or has our son’s sleep pattern been disrupted, or has our little one started to cling to our skirts more and more? Or is our elementary-aged daughter not wanting to go to school, or is our teenage son worrying too much about everything?
How much will it take?
• Ordinary anxieties do not last very long in children. They quickly disappear. However, if our children’s fears and worries persist for more than 3 weeks, it’s time for us to start worrying too. If this situation persists for more than 3 months, we should seek the help of a professional.
What are the signs that our children are anxious?
• Anxious children may be worried about certain dangers or threats, such as getting hurt, being hurt, that someone will make fun of them or that their loved ones will get sick.
• When our children show anxiety, they may breathe harder, sweat, feel nauseous, have diarrhoea, have a headache, or feel exhausted.
• When our children are anxious, they are also irritable.
• They may cry, they may cling to our skirts.
Anxious children often try to stay away from the things they fear.
For example, they do not want to go to playgrounds for fear of meeting new children, or they refuse to participate in entertainment for fear of being separated from their families.
How can we help our children with anxiety?
To help our children, when their anxiety begins to interfere with their daily lives, you can listen without retaliation or try to convince them that their concerns are not real. However, all our efforts may not be of any use. In this case, we need to ask for help from someone outside the family. This person may be a mature and reliable friend or community elder. If the problem persists, it is best to speak to a professional who can help our children with anxiety. These professionals may be family doctors, pediatricians, school counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists or therapists. These people can use helpful methods such as relaxation and self-confidence to treat anxiety. In cases where these do not work and the anxiety is very severe, medication may also be used.
How do we know if our kids really have a problem?
Our children meet other children and adults in many ways every day. Some of these people may notice a change in our child’s behavior and may explain why. In these situations, we need to be understanding and give our children time to adjust to the situation.
We can tell if our children really have a problem using the methods we describe below.
How can we tell the difference between normal anxiety and anxiety that needs to be treated?
Anxiety and fears are very common in both children and adults. We need to consider carefully whether we are overstating the problem or whether we have overlooked a real problem that could be hindering our children’s development. As parents, if we treat every concern of a child as a very serious problem, we will do more harm than good to the child. If we act this way, our children will develop a concern that the world is a dangerous place. Not all worries or fears require professional help.
Some fears are normal things that should be experienced according to the age of the child. It even indicates that our child is starting to mature.
We can use the following methods to find out if our child is overly anxious.
• Worries do not subside with time : Suppose our child was playing in the schoolyard, while he was threatened by other children. After a while, when she saw the children, she began to be afraid and worried. After reporting the situation to the school, necessary precautions were taken and the problem was resolved. But our child’s fear continues. Even when our child goes to a very safe playground, he continues to panic. If our child continues to have episodes of fear, panic and anxiety 3 months after the problem disappears, this situation requires an intervention.
• If the anxiety is getting worse:We need to pay attention to whether the initial anxiety response turns into new anxieties, physical complaints such as vomiting, stomach ache, headache.
• If it affects other areas of their lives: If our children are no longer able to do what they used to do because of their fears and anxieties, then it is appropriate for us to be suspicious. If their reactions interfere with their normal lives and hinder their progress in development, it is appropriate to seek help.
Remember, anxieties and fears are normal in children. But if our children persist in showing these fears and anxieties, there are effective treatments available.