Psychologist, MPsych, Assoc MAPS
Wheelers Hill Business Centre
Level 1, Suite 1.21
202 Jells Road
Wheelers Hill 3150
Anxiety in children: when to take action
In most cases, anxiety and fears in childhood are short-lived. Children are often afraid of the dark or worried about zombies, depending on their age. As they get older they have bigger worries, such as whether they are liked by their friends. For some children though, worry can become more. It is estimated that 8-22% of children experience anxiety, which means that compared to other children, it is stopping them from engaging in life and feeling happy. Some signs that a child is struggling with anxiety could include, checking things frequently eg. Is the door locked?, constantly looking for reassurance, trouble falling or staying asleep, being tired, grumpy, irritable, tearful or upset most of the time, feel restless, keyed-up or on edge, either refusing to eat or eating a lot, have tense or sore muscles, unexplained aches and pains, and not want to go to school. Excessive anxiety also affects a child’s ability to learn as it affects not only brain development, but the ability to concentrate and be social.
Early intervention of anxiety is critically important and there is a body of evidence to show that it is effective. Many studies show mental health issues such as anxiety in adulthood can have their origins in childhood and adolescence. While not every child needs intervention, for those that do, it can help change their risk of developing mental health issues throughout their life.
The good news is there is that early intervention through counselling and parental involvement has proven outcomes, that help a child and parent learn how to respond to anxiety differently. There is a lot parents can do to help to ensure a sense of nurturing, safe relationship and to help a child learn to face anxieties, so that they don’t feel as big. If you are concerned about whether your child is anxious, it might be a good idea to speak a psychologist who specialises in childhood and adolescent issues.