Anxious child – what to do?

How does childhood anxiety manifest itself? A child can experience it in a variety of unpleasant or unsafe situations. In addition, having experienced fear, stress, conflict, plunging into feelings of guilt or shame once, he begins to worry even when he is not in danger and the situation is stable and safe.

Anxious children are afraid of everything new, do not like to take risks, do not strive for acquaintances, are afraid of being at home alone, react stiffly to public speaking, while experiencing internal discomfort. Very often they have a rich imagination and, therefore, many of the worries and fears are contrived by them. Anxiety can very quickly become a character trait, a habit that manifests itself in response to any external event. Child psychologists identify anxiety in a child’s personality with the help of special diagnostic tools – projective drawings, conversations about school and family, observation.  

Why is it important to reduce your anxiety? So that the child can live in peace and enjoy every day, get rid of groundless suspicions, obsessive thoughts that do not allow him to relax and be himself.

Can parents help him with this? Yes, if they follow specific guidelines.

Why do children get anxious?

  • Emotional trauma. This includes the divorce of parents, the loss of a loved one, difficult relationships with brothers or sisters – any dramatic situation in a child’s life that caused stress.
  • Unfair treatment of adults. If once the parents scolded the child very strongly – shouted at him, punished him physically – then he, having experienced strong negative emotions, may become anxious. Also, anxiety can cause emotional oppression from the mother or father.
  • Experiencing intense feelings of shame or guilt caused by public censure of a child in kindergarten or school.
  • Too strict upbringing in the family, when they do not forgive mistakes, scold for any oversight, do not allow them to get angry, upset and cry. In such a family, there are very high requirements for children, so they grow up anxious – they control themselves all the time so as not to make a mistake.
  • When parents criticize, condemn, mock, dictate how to live and act correctly. Lack of understanding for the child, recognition of his feelings and rights, devaluation of everything he says or does, gives rise to a feeling of anxiety in him. Taking root in character, it is associated with low self-esteem and self-doubt. If you do not help the child to get rid of her, he will grow into an adult who is worried, afraid of everything new and does not trust himself.
  • Intimidation. In such a family, children constantly hear the phrases: “If you bring a” deuce “- I’ll kill you”, “You don’t have to come back home if you get your clothes dirty”, “For bad behavior you will sit in your room for a week!” and the like.  
  • Childhood anxiety is caused by the expectations and demands of parents. For example, a mother or father dreams of raising a talented pianist in a child, so they force him to attend classes at a music school. If the child does not like what he is doing, then anxiety can become his faithful companion.

Child and kindergarten

Parents should be aware that childhood anxiety can become a character trait quite early on, with admission to kindergarten. This happens when the child’s adaptation is not very successful: he is afraid to stay in the group, worries that his mother will not pick him up, cannot establish communication with the children, does not receive attention from the teacher.

Parents may not always know how a child is feeling in a kindergarten group, but they can see and understand that anxiety overtakes them and come to the aid of the child.

Discomfort in a kindergarten group can be indicated by such manifestations of a child as: bad mood in the evenings, fatigue, moodiness, lethargy, aggressiveness, loss of sleep or appetite, decreased activity. These factors can also indicate other disorders in the child’s psyche, therefore, before diagnosing a child with poor adaptation, parents should make sure that it is she who is the cause of anxiety.  

It is possible to reduce its intensity if children begin to receive as much parental attention and warmth at home as possible – “nourished” with love in the family, it will be easier for them to get through weekdays in kindergarten and their confidence that their parents love them, and they will definitely be taken home will get stronger.

If a child is anxious from an early age, then he comes to school already “squeezed”, fearful, insecure. His condition in this case becomes much more complicated – he worries even more and “withdraws into himself.” This happens because the demands on the part of adults are increasing, growing and in order to satisfy them, children need to have more activity, ingenuity and willpower.

Anxiety prevents these qualities from developing. The energy of anxious children is aimed at thinking and experiencing “No matter how bad things happen to me.” This includes thoughts of “twos” and misbehavior, quarrels with friends and parents, injury, and even death, oneself or others.

Anxious children often draw pictures of various disasters in their head, therefore, experiencing them inside themselves, they often do not have the strength to learn well and communicate effectively.

What should adults do? Reduce anxiety. For this you need:

  • Understand what kind of injury contributed to her appearance.
  • Study the child’s behavior and how he or she responds to stress.
  • Get closer to him, try to understand anxieties and experiences, not condemn, criticize and not scold for a fearful state and tension.
  • Talk openly to understand what will bring him joy and help him relax.
  • Pay as much attention to feelings and needs as possible – communicate often, read, play together.
  • Seek help from a child psychologist.

The inner state of parents

It happens that children take on some of the worries of the mother or father. This happens in families where parents hide their feelings, but do not stop worrying about them. Then the child seems to become a reflection of the adult and worries along with him. There is no clear reason for such anxiety – children simply feel it as a stable internal state and even get used to it. Adults can help reduce its impact and get the child to live their childhood joyful and carefree life by working through personal issues. To do this, you need to understand what worries them themselves, to establish relationships that are conflicting or bring pain, to determine their desires, to understand the path of life. 

When parents calm down and relax, children “change before our eyes” – they become more joyful and open, cease to be afraid of what is not, their energy, previously fettered by anxiety and suspicion, finds a way out for fun, new discoveries and interest in the world around them.

event_note December 29, 2020

account_box Winona Tse MD

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