Watching a child struggling with anxiety can be very difficult for parents. Anxiety may begin to mask their perception of their child and convince them that a child can’t do things that he or she really can. Many parents find it helpful to keep track of the child’s accomplishments and abilities so that they don’t begin thinking of their child as anxious and fearful. Instead they can recognize what abilities their child has that might be useful in dealing with anxiety. A little anxiety isn’t always a bad thing, but, it can help motivate one to do one’s best and to respond appropriately to danger.
Anxiety, the body’s reaction to a perceived, anticipated or imagined danger or threatening situation, is a common occurrence among children. All children experience anxiety. Anxiety in children is expected and normal at specific times in development. For example, from around 8 months through the preschool years, healthy youngsters may show intense distress (anxiety) at times of separation from their parents or other persons with whom they are close. Anxious children are often overly tense or uptight. Some may seek a lot of reassurance, and their worries may interfere with activities.
There are different types of child anxiety. One such anxiety disorder very common among them is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is defined as chronic, excessive worry and fear that seems to have no real cause. Children with GAD often worry a lot about things such as future events, past behaviors, social acceptance, family matters, relationship, their personal abilities, and school performance. Although younger children can show signs of excessive worry, children usually develop GAD at about 12 years old. Studies also revealed that many children with GAD also have other anxiety problems. The most common of which are social anxiety, depression, separation anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Worrying too much on things before they actually happen or too concerned about friends, school or activities is the most common symptoms of GAD. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. It may also include:* constant thoughts and fears about safety of self and/or safety of parents* refusing to go to school* frequent stomach aches, headaches, or other physical complaints* muscle aches or tension* sleep disturbance* excessive worry about sleeping away from home* clingy behavior with family members* feeling as though there is a lump in the throat* fatigue* lack of concentration* being easily startled* irritability* inability to relax. Several anxiety medications are available for treating GAD. A few of these medications include Zoloft, Paxil, Xanax, and Prozac. All of these medications are known as SSRI’s, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications are all fairly new anti-depressants on the marketplace and they often have very little side effects. When a child takes any of these drugs, he or she may experience overly nervous at first. However, after several weeks the feeling typically moves away. Some side consequences of anti-depressants that children may experience are: sleepiness, tiredness, and confusion.
These medications should only be taken in with consultation from a child’s physician. A physician’s decision on what medications to be taken by a child depends on the child’s physical structure chemistry as well as how severe the child’s anxiety is.
Parents should not discount a child’s fears. Aside from the symptoms mentioned above, anxious children may also be quiet, compliant and eager to please, thus their difficulties may be missed. Parents should always be alert to the signs of severe anxiety so they can intervene early to prevent future complications.