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Anxiety in Children - How To Help A Child With Worries

What is Worry?

The definition of worrying is to cause anxiety by dwelling on difficulties.

When children worry, they repetitively think about the negative aspects of a problem.

Kids may do this because they are already feeling anxious or are under stress at school or socially.

Then the worrying can make kids feel more anxious because they may feel that they can’t control their worries. Then they feel anxious about feeling anxious. It’s a vicious cycle that could lead to symptoms of a panic attack.

Worrying is a normal part of life. It’s a signal that something could be wrong. It helps us solve problems. It prepares us for potential future problems.

Worrying can also be a sign of an anxiety disorder if the worries are excessive and the resulting anxiety interferes with your child’s daily activities.

What are the symptoms of worrying?

  • Repetitive or uncontrollable negative thoughts or images

  • Restlessness or feeling on edge

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • Muscle tension or muscle soreness

  • Poor sleep

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

GAD is the most common diagnosis for individuals with excessive worry and anxiety.

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent worry and apprehension that is out of proportion to what would actually happen

  • Difficulty controlling worried thoughts

  • Worries over routine daily activities and experiences (Job, health, finances, family, household chores, being late)

  • Difficulty making decisions

The worry and apprehension goes well beyond normal daily worries and is associated with significant physical symptoms of:

  • Restlessness or feeling on edge

  • Trembling, twitching

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  • Feeling irritable

  • Muscle tension or muscle soreness

  • Poor sleep

  • Frequent urination and/or diarrhea

  • Sweating

  • Nausea

What do children worry about?

Children typically experience worry about their competence or performance with school or sports.

Children’s worries usually shift from one concern to another. They may seek more reassurance and approval from parents.

Children may also conform more and lack confidence. Children will usually have more physical complaints such as stomach aches or feeling ill and may avoid going to school.

The type of worry tends to be related to the age of the child. As kids become more aware of the world around them, they become more aware of their vulnerabilities.

Younger children may worry more about being away from their parents, worry about strangers, and worry about storms.

Preteens and teenagers may worry more about grades, tests, sports performance, body changes, fitting in, and being bullied. Kids can also worry about societal issues such as terrorism, social injustices, and even presidential elections.

Worry Center of the Brain