Anxiety in children is often overlooked because most parents can easily remember phases of their own childhood that were filled with uncomfortable feelings and general awkwardness. Transferring to a new school, going on a first date or falling down in gym class caused butterflies in the stomach and maybe even a few tears.
Nervousness and embarrassment are about as common to a child as skinned knees, but a severe change in behavior or concerns that seem exaggerated could be warnings of an anxiety disorder. Some symptoms of anxiety in children are:
- Sudden unrealistic worry about everyday events.
- Severe self-conscious behavior.
- Constant need for reassurance from authority figures.
- Physical discomfort with no medical explanation.
- Insomnia and trouble falling asleep.
- Sudden extreme fear of a social situation, event or object.
- Unexplainable bouts of sweating and dizziness.
- Overly repetitive behaviors.
- Overreaction to physical contact.
My child only shows a few signs of anxiety. Is she at risk for developing a disorder?
One of the greatest joys a parent can experience is watching her child grow and change. However, as a child develops new fascinations and abilities, it is inevitable that she will develop new fears and worries as well, and this is entirely normal. However, the Unites States Department of Health and Human Services suggests observing a child’s behavior between the ages of six and eight for indicators of upcoming anxiety disorders. In this stage of development, many parents begin to notice their children are less afraid of monsters in the closet and are becoming eager to go to school instead of clinging to Mom or Dad. Excessive anxiety that doesn’t begin to wane in a child of this age should encourage a parent to seek treatment for her child.