What is Child Anxiety?
Just like adult anxiety, children can also suffer from anxiety. In fact, anxiety in children should be expected at specific times during development and is in those cases regarded as normal (for example, the first day of school). Some children may also suffer from excessive shyness and may struggle to adjust to new situations.
They may not yet have the ability to vocalize their feelings, nor the coping skills needed to manage them - making their fears and anxiety even more difficult for them to cope with.
Most children have short-lived fears, and quickly grow out of them as they learn through experience that there is no real danger in the things they fear. For example, a child will learn that there are no monsters under the bed or that when mom leaves for work, she will come back at the end of the day. This is regarded as a routine part of development.
Some children are more anxious than others and may need additional reassurance or help from a professional, especially if an Anxiety disorder is suspected. Anxiety becomes a problem if it begins to affect your child’s daily routine and functioning or if it is causing your child significant distress.
When is Child Anxiety Normal?
It is normal for all children to experience certain anxieties at specific developmental stages.
Between 7 and 11 months, healthy youngsters will often feel anxious around unfamiliar faces. Between 7 months and the 3 years, most children experience anxiety when separated from their caregivers.
Young children may have short-lived fears, such as fear of the dark, storms, animals, or ‘monsters’, and they often develop temporary ‘phobias’ after particular bad experiences. A child may fear dogs after being bitten by a dog.
When they start going to school, they are subject to school concerns such as ‘fitting in’, academic and social pressures, and other anxieties that arise as a result of developing an independent sense of self. Anxieties such as these are normal and should resolve over time and through reassurance.