It is very common for us to associate anxiety to more pragmatic questions, such as debt, uncertainty about work or everyday stress. But the truth is anxiety is nothing more than our body’s defense mechanism, like an alarm that keeps us away from danger. So is the case with children. Childhood anxiety has the same essence but can happen for a number of reasons.

Much of this anxiety or fear is normal and is part of the process of emotional development, naturally disappearing on the right time. That is why you should not worry if your kid show signs of fear or anxiety when facing specific situations.

You should stay aware and watch if this anxiety is negatively influencing the child’s life. Fear of changing schools, for example, is normal and comprehensible (Who has never gotten anxious about changing jobs in adult life?). But if this fear or anxiety is paralyzing, then it becomes a matter of attention.

Dysfunctional childhood anxiety

Fear or anxiety are problems when they become dysfunctional and deter kids from doing everyday tasks such as going to school. According to the Children’s Mental Health Report published by the NGO Child Mind Institute, 1 in 5 kids has suffered or will suffer from a mental disorder, and anxiety disorders make more than 40% of this total. In other words, it is an issue that must be taken seriously and looked upon both at home and at school.

What to do?

Get to know your child, pay attention to changes in behavior, like aggressiveness, above-normal insecurity or lack of concentration at school. Persisting separation anxiety beyond regular development stages might be an indicator of anxiety as well as strong fear of sleeping alone.

If you notice something wrong or uncommon in your children’s behavior, some actions might help: show them you are by their side, offering every support they need. Allow them to express themselves and speak their hearts out. If the child still hasn’t achieved a fluent speech, play together. Playing help children create ideal scenarios in which they feel safer to express how they feel and think. But nonetheless, seek professional help. A specialist will help you if a disorder is confirmed.

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