Because I eat, live and breathe anxiety – I have made the ridiculous assumption that everyone fully understands child anxiety. Working as a child therapist and having the genetic curse of anxiety in my family’s DNA – I get anxiety and unfortunately it gets me.



If you have a child with anxiety - make sure you and your family know these 5 things.

Over the years I have found some common misunderstandings about anxiety. If you know anxiety like I do – this list may not surprise you at all. For some of you however – it might shed some new light on anxiety.

 

1. Anxiety runs in families.

 

Just like diabetes, hair color and baldness – anxiety runs in families. If anyone in your extended family has a history of anxiety or OCD – your children are at risk of dealing with anxiety too. Anxiety can manifest differently in different family members – and it doesn’t have to look the same in each person.


Your Great Aunt Hilda might have been a hoarder, your mother might have had panic attacks and your child get’s too nervous to go to school – it is all anxiety.


2. Anxiety does not have to be caused by a trauma or a negative experience.


I am often asked – “Why is he anxious? He has nothing to be anxious about. His life is good.” Parents wonder why their children are afraid of bad guys, nervous to go to school or terrified of being separated from their parents. They tell me – “Nothing bad has ever happened to him!”




Anxiety does not have to come from trauma or a bad experience. You can be afraid of dogs without ever being bitten. You can be afraid of bad guys without ever meeting one. You can be sick to your stomach about going to school – without being bullied. If you have anxiety – you can be worried, afraid and nervous about situations that have never happened to you or that pose no real threat.


3. Anxiety can cause many physical symptoms that are not always understood as anxiety.


Anxiety can do some crazy things to our body. The most common symptoms include stomach upset, nausea and vomiting. It can cause frequent headaches. It can cause ongoing constipation or diarrhea. Many of the anxious children I work with have a history of constipation. It can cause panic attacks that make you have shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and clamminess.

OTHER ARTICLES:  PSP 007: Child Anxiety and School Refusal | Parenting an Anxious Child Who Refuses to Go to School

Anxiety isn't just in our mind, it is in our body as well. Read the most common physical symptoms of anxiety.

Some of the rarer symptoms can include difficulty swallowing along with the belief that there is something stuck in your throat. Constant throat clearing can sometimes be a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety can give you the urge to pick at your scabs, bite your nails and pull your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes out.


I always tell people to rule out any possible medical origin before thinking it is anxiety – but it is helpful to know that these physical symptoms can be linked to anxiety.


4. Giving in to your child’s anxiety will make their anxiety grow over time.


Some well intentioned parents cater to their children’s anxiety. It’s hard not to! This is tricky – because there is a fine line between giving in to your child’s anxiety versus being aware of when your child has reached their limit. There is a fine line between pushing your child too hard and empowering your child.


Children need to be given tools to learn how to fight their anxiety. They need to be empowered. They need to be supported. At times – they need to be challenged. Having said that – they also need to be understood. They need to not be pushed beyond their limits. The balance can be hard to find!


I have addressed ways to help teach children how to fight their fears in a previous post (click here to read).

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5. The earlier a child can get help for anxiety – the better the long-term prognosis.


Often as parents –we take a wait and see approach. Parents might think – this is a stage or maybe they’ll outgrow this behavior. The earlier a child can learn coping mechanisms – the better.


You can help by reading books on anxiety with your children or reading parenting books on anxiety. Addressing anxiety head on gives your child the best odds for less anxiety in the future.


Some children benefit from some sessions with a child therapist. Parents can also benefit from learning parental approaches from a child therapist. Just remember – it doesn’t have to be extreme for you to start helping your child. Young children who show signs of anxiety are less likely to have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms and are often more open to learning new skills.

 

Additional Support

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Do you know an anxious teen? Give them the only self-help book teens are likely to read:

Finally a teen anxiety book that teens will want to read!

 

 

OTHER ARTICLES:  Interview with a Toddler Stalker

 

Below are other great books on childhood anxiety (affiliate links): I love this book! I recommend this book to all the families I work with:

Visit Anxious Toddlers’s profile on Pinterest.

33 responses to “If You Have a Child with Anxiety: You Should Know These 5 Things”

  1. FABULOUS intro to this insidious instigator…
    Thanks and love,

  2. […] 5 Things Every Parent Should Know About Child Anxiety […]

  3. Louise says:

    This is really interesting. I think my little boy has anxiety but he is 7 now. The books above look great for parents and older kids but I wondered if you knew of anything that was suitable for his age range, to help him deal with it, rather than to help the parent?

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Louise,
      That’s a good question. Another great book is Wilma Jean the Worry Machine. The author also has an activity book that goes along with it. I added links to those books above. Hope that helps!

    • Danielle Toffoli says:

      “What to do when you Worry too much” is perfect for his age range. It’s something you can read together. This author is great and we also loved: “What to do when your brain gets stuck” by the same author (Dawn Huebner) & “Don’t Stress” by Helaine Becker. I will sometimes see my 9 year old reading this before bed and it really helps calm his fears. These books have been in our home library for a few years now!

  4. Kenneth Gladman says:

    I suffered from anxiety in high school and still battle it day to day. I had no idea that it runs in the family. I can see some signs that my daughter might have some anxiety issues. I will have to get her some help right away.

  5. Debra Brooks says:

    I have a niece who is 6yrs old now, who suffers from anxiety and melt downs…..My brother is 62yrs old and a widower. He lost his wife to murder Nov. 2,, 2010 he was out of town and my niece was 13 months old when it happened. She was in the house while it happened and was laying on top of her mother when they found her….He is trying to deal with this as a single dad and i send him your post often….Her Dr.. put her on meds about a year ago ( lexapro & Ambilify at night)….She just got off of them about a month ago and she is very anxious at night.. He doesn’t want her on meds but is considering maybe she needs to be back on them….Any suggestions……

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Debra – sorry to hear about your niece. Such a tragic story. You can tell your brother to talk to her doctor about the possibility of Melatonin. It isn’t as strong as the medication she was taking, but it is natural.

  6. i think my small child so much anxiety from 4 years old i think these book help me recover my child problem
    its really good anxiety problem solutions gave a good anser me

  7. Hi

    Good article. Yes anxiety is a genetic problem in child. Your article can help them to recover anxiety from their children. Thumb Up!

  8. Many people with depression don’t have the typical symptoms. Learn about the causes and treatment of atypical depression, with symptoms that include weight gain, sleeping too much, and feeling anxious.From chronic illnesses such as heart disease to pain perception, sex, and sleep — discover how untreated depression can complicate your life.

  9. Jessica says:

    Hi, I know my son has anxiety, and now I’m wondering about my daughter. Do you think that sensory issues could be a sign of anxiety?

  10. Se tuo figlio è ansioso: devi sapere queste 5 cose. – Federica Benassi says:

    […] Vai alla fonte originale:https://www.anxioustoddlers.com/child-anxiety/ […]

  11. baby love says:

    great post thanks for sharing

  12. Selina Marie says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Never thought anxiety could run i a family. Definitely going to keep an eye for singes from now on.

    Keep up the good work!

  13. lisa says:

    Hi just wondering what the cost of the course is in australian dollars

  14. Belinda says:

    Lovely helpful article.
    I have a question, I babysat my three year old niece. I found her breathing unusual for a child that age. She breathed in through her mouth, held it for two or three seconds and then let it burst out. There was no obvious diagramatic breathing. She did that until I put her down for a nap and her breathing returned to normal. She has long a history of constipation, laxatives are part of her daily diet and she never leaves her mum’s side. Night wakefullness aswell.
    I’m guessing she was anxious and despite my best loving and playful efforts, and even though she played and talked with me, under it all, she was still anxious?
    Question: Do I mention this to the mum who appear extremely uninterested in the learning about health?😬

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Belinda,
      I would mention it to her mom, even if she seems uninterested. At least you did your part to let her know.

  15. Jen says:

    My 5 yr old son has recently been complaining that he can’t breathe. He’s been checked by 2 doctors and his vitals and oxygen are fine. He says sometimes that he is stressed. We cuddles on the couch before bed which is a pretty normal routine. He got up and said he just can’t sit or stand or lay down right now . What is going on? I’m so worries because if it is anxiety, I’m not ok with putting my child on medicine for it….

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Jen,
      Sorry to hear about his struggles. Does he get scared at night? Sometimes kids get anxious before bedtime. I would try some guided imagery with him. You can download Lori Lite. She makes CDs for kids to help them relax. Maybe that would help calm him?

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Hello, my son is nine years old and he gets anxiety attacks that cause his chest to hurt and he has a difficult time breathing. He runs around the house scared and I am not able to get him to do his deep breathing exercises until about 10 mins after these start. With the anxiety attacks he stops eating. He said he feels like there is something in his throat and if he eats he will die. I am very concerned and I do have him seeing a therapist. He has had a recent anxiety attack seven days ago and has stopped eating. I have managed to get him to drink pedisure and also some of the Plum organics, this is pretty much baby food. I am not able to get him to eat to many different packets due to him saying they taste bad. His therapist has not recommended medicine as of yet. I am concerned because my sons only weighs 57 pounds to begin with and his weight drops considerably when this happens. There are issues with his father, whom I am divorced from now for seven years. My son has stopped going to his fathers for visits and actually I was told by a psychiatrist that he should not be alone with him. I do not know what to do to help my son at this point. I am scared I will have to take him to the hospital to get an IV of fluids for some nutrition. He was just awake late on Christmas crying and scared that he is going to die. He said to me that he wants to look at me for awhile so he can remember me if he dies tonight. This is ripping my heart in half. His therapist is not in the office until January 6th and we do have an appointment with her, however all I have gotten from her is to do the deep breathing. I need help for me so I can help my child. His therapist did recommend a psychiatric service dog however, I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I can not find anywhere close to us. If you have any advice on how to get him to eat I would really appreciate it. All help is grateful and so very much appreciated.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      I am so sorry to hear about your son’s struggles. To me this issue sounds very acute and he needs treatment right away. You do have one of the country’s best treatment centers for anxiety and OCD right on your doorstep. Even if you aren’t able to go there (I believe it is over 4 hours away from you) they would know the best resources in your area. Here is Rogers Memorial website https://rogersbh.org/rogers-behavioral-health-philadelphia.

  17. Tomas says:

    My son is 14 and I’ve suffered from anxiety, so I don’t doubt he has actual anxiety. My ex and I co-parent week on week off.
    When my son is with me, he acts and behaves great. If I have structure for him, which I do, he does very well. Even if he doesn’t want to follow through. However, when he is with his mom and he doesn’t get what he wants, like go “hang out up town” after school, he seems to use his “anxiety” as a reason why he shouldn’t have to follow through with the previously arranged plans (like go home with me to work on school work). I want to believe him about his anxiety, but he has been caught being very deceptive and it’s hard to tell when he is lying these days. His mom also gives into his excuses and seems to create this loyalty conflict between him and I. It’s so hard to co-parent. My son smokes weed everyday and skips class and skips rugby and blames it all on anxiety but is not willing to work on getting better. I want to help him so bad. I also know that structure does so good for him but he gets away with everything at his moms so we seem to get no progress. His mom does “talk to him” but doesn’t keep him accountable and I am here looking like the bad parent. How can I help him want to help himself or should I do what my instincts feel and step in more and challenge him and keep him accountable even if he doesn’t like it?

    I’ve learnt that with my anxiety, I needed to take control of it and force myself to reprogram my brain and eliminate the thoughts but I was honest with myself. He’s only 14 and is going down slippery roads and I feel hopeless as his dad.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Sorry to hear about your son’s struggles Tomas. It is hard when you don’t have full control over how your child is being parented. I would try and see if his mom would agree to therapy. Your best chance at helping him is to get him into a therapist who can teach him coping mechanisms and who can work with both you and his mom.

  18. Jo says:

    Hello,

    I delevolped an anxiety disorder when my twins were about 11 months due to the situation around me.
    I was in a bad place but found my own way out eventually. My twins are now 5. My daughter clearly has anxiety and my son on occasions when he thinks I’m going to have an episode.
    I was in a really good place until I started experiencing nasty mothers at the school drop off. On top on that I had exam pressures. Once my exam was over I’ve not been able to get back to my “good place” due to constant nasty mothers. Anyway… I noticed my daughters behavior change since starting school. The things she say explains anxieties and her behaviour can be very stressed and angry. She stared to get better when she expressed her self to me about phyical bullying at school. Since I’ve lost my “good place” and feel anxious and on edge so has she. What books are good for a 5 year old? Also what other help can I get for her. I feel so worried for her. My son has it too but you wouldn’t know it apart from how he says he feels.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I like Don’t Feed the Worry Bug by Andi Green for that age. Also, What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner and Hey Warrior by Karen Young are great books. Also, Anxious Parent, Anxious Child by Lynn Lyons and Reid Wilson might help you?

  19. Eileen heavey says:

    Hello Natasha

    I am a single mum and have a five year old daughter.
    Three years ago me and my daughter ended up in a safe address after her dad had about a week of going really crazy. In that he was making threats and really not himself, due to drugs.
    We ended up going to court and I got full custody of my daughter.
    My husband then went back to his country for a year and a half and then returned, expecting all to be like before. But I said no.

    For me it is not that I did not love him still, but so much damage had been done, I wanted needed to see if we could build that trust again.

    I have recently been getting a lot of help for me as I suffer with anxiety, insomnia, depression, OCD eating problems, , all of which I am now getting help with as I realized I needed it and could not carry on.

    I am just worried now as I see a lot of anxiety problems in my five year old, it has only been about the last six weeks it has been very bad.
    She keeps wanting to sleep with me…..in which I am trying hard to say no to,although hard and I feel awful, but I know I need to do that to help her.

    She follows me around a lot at home.

    She has to come and get ready in my room for school, when she used to do it in her room.

    She just keeps saying”dont worry it is ok ”

    She just seems like a different child.

    The school have done her a,worry monster as they have noticed small changes also.

    I feel so bad and worry that maybe she can see all my struggles, which I try my hardest to keep away from her.

    Me and her dad are getting a,divorce as we feel this is best for us, as we could not ‘re-build what we had, we tried for 18 months to no avail.

    Me and my daughter have lived with just me and her since she was two and since he has returned he has just seen her some weekends, in which I always go with them as this makes her happier.

    I have asked her to write me a letter about her worries and we got some worry books , but it is starting to really worry me as I can see how much stress and anxiety is in her.

    Please any ideas wouk d be great
    Thank you for your help and time
    Nk

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I would see if you can get her into therapy if possible. Being proactive and arming her with tools to crush anxiety is very helpful long-term.

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