Today we are talking about anxiety and fears in children 4 – 6 and 7 – 12.
Anxiety is defined as apprehension without apparent cause. It usually occurs when there is no
immediate threat to a person’s safety or well-being, but the threat feels real.
Everyone experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. However with kids these feelings
are not only normal but necessary.
Kids ages 4-6 have anxiety about things that are not based in reality, such as fears of monsters and
ghosts. Kids 7 – 12 often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them such as
bodily injury and natural disaster.
There are five types of anxiety disorders in children and youth.
1.Separation anxiety disorder: Children with this type of disorder refuse or avoid going to school, call
many times to be picked up, cry ad cling to caregiver, throw tantrums, complain of physical symptoms
2. Social Anxiety Disorder: Older children may avoid talking to classmates, avoid going to birthday
parties or social events, using the telephone, making presentations, eating in public or not using public
3. Specific Phobias: These children are scared of certain situations or objects such as bridges,
transportations, enclosed spaces (elevators, tunnels). The dark, storms heights, water, insects or dogs,
4. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: These children will ask “what if” about all things (described as
worrywarts). They worry about school performances, doing things perfectly, what people think of them,
disaster, health, safety, family finances.
5. Panic Disorder: Unexpected panic attacks with bodily symptoms such as dizziness, racing heart
shacking or trembling, sweating, shortness of breath.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is your child’s fear and behavior related to it being typical for your child’s age? Normally your child’s
fears will resolve themselves. Your child just needs reassurance and knowledge that you recognize those
Parents can help kids develop the skills and confidence to overcome fears so they don’t evolve into
To help your kids:
1. Recognize that the fear is real – not trivial.
2. Never belittle by saying “Don’t be ridiculous”!
3. Do not cater to fears- for instance if our child does not like dogs, do not deliberately cross the
street to get away from the dog. Provide gentle support as you pass the dog or situation.
4. Teach kids to rate fear. You can say for younger kids “Is the fear up to your knees, up to your
stomach or all over you? For older kids you can use “1 – 10”.
5. Teach coping strategies such as “I can do this” and “I will be OK” Teach relaxation techniques
such as deep breathing or floating on a cloud
You can do it Parents! I have confidence in YOU!
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