Does your child have anxiety?

October 07, 2014

It's completely normal for kids to get scared about the first day of school or attending a new day care. However, if your child is fearful or excessively worried about everyday events, there might be a bigger issue at play. Children who have problems with anxiety can have trouble in school and with making friends. It's important to take the necessary steps to mitigate their fears before they get overwhelmed.

Recognizing anxiety
Both children and adults can experience passing anxiety before or during a stressful event. Tests at school, meeting new people or moving can all cause your child to be anxious, and it's completely normal. However, as a parent, you'll be able to recognize when fear and nervousness are interfering with their everyday activities. The Anxiety and Depression Association says that if your child's symptoms last for more than two weeks, there's probably something wrong. Anxiety disorders are extremely common and their symptoms include changes in grades or behavior, mood swings, frequent crying, loss of energy, self-esteem problems, trouble sleeping and loss of appetite. A good indicator that your child may have an anxiety problem is if worrying and fear are getting in the way of his or her personal, social or academic development.

Parenting tips
If you think your child might have a problem with anxiety, consult with his or her pediatrician. It's important to get proper medical help, but there are also a few things you can do to boost your child's confidence. Worry Wise Kids explains that you should have the same expectations of an anxious child that you do of your other kids. Your child should go to play dates, talk to teachers and sit with friends on the bus. However, it may take a little more coaxing and reassurance to get your child to take these actions.

Help your child take the first steps in a scary situation. If you're going to a birthday party, explain that you'll stay with him or her for an hour. Once your child is comfortably interacting with others, you can run an errand or talk with parents in another room. Afterward, be sure to praise your child for being brave and trying something new. Building up personal strength and self-confidence will help your child to become more independent and get a handle on his or her fear. Take small steps toward these goals every day. It can be tempting to take control in a situation to protect your child, but this won't be helpful in the long run.

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