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Childhood anxiety: symptoms and what to do to fight it

Childhood anxiety: symptoms and what to do to fight it

June 24, 2021

The world of children is governed by its own rules, and in certain aspects adults have some difficulty in interpreting them. In childhood, life is experienced in a different way, and the psychological aspect of the little ones does not have to be easy for the caregivers to understand, be they parents, mothers or guardians.

This is something that must be taken into account especially when assessing the importance of recognize the signs of early childhood anxiety , to be able to brake them. In this article we will talk about this phenomenon, more common than it seems.

  • Related article: "The 7 types of anxiety (causes and symptoms)"

What is childhood anxiety?

Infantile anxiety appears when, during childhood, children feel that the experience they live at a certain time, or along a longer stage, exceeds them, without there being a clear or relatively easy solution to address.


Although anxiety disorders in childhood are something quite specific that does not have to occur in all cases in which a child feels anxiety, the latter phenomenon is more frequent than is believed. Situations that enhance its appearance they are, for example, an education based on punishment, the existence of mistreatment or bullying, the obligation to attend many extracurricular activities, etc.

So, it can be said that childhood anxiety is a psychological and physiological phenomenon in which the person enters a state of alert in a sustained manner , experiencing symptoms based on rumination (obsessive thinking and following a "loop") and the hyperactivation of the autonomic nervous system that negatively affect one or several areas of the child's life, such as family life, learning in the educational center he attends, etc.


  • Maybe you're interested: "The 6 stages of childhood (physical and psychic development)"

Symptoms of anxiety in boys and girls

Of course, childhood anxiety has a common basis to the way in which all human beings, regardless of their age, experience anxiety. However, the symptoms are expressed differently, since the vital moment in which the youngest children find themselves, of course, other ways of interacting with the environment and trying to adapt to it .

Thus, although in practice each case is unique, in general, childhood anxiety is manifested in the following symptoms. Each one of them does not have to indicate the sustained presence of anxiety, but if some occur at the same time, it is probably the case.

  • Afraid to remain alone.
  • Tics and semiautomatic stereotyped behaviors (stretching of the hair, biting the nails, etc.).
  • Crying .
  • Need to be physically in touch with the caregiver, constantly.
  • Anguish crisis when separated from caregivers.

On the other hand, in the case of anxiety disorders, other more specific symptoms may appear depending on what the problem is. For example, in the case of phobias, crises occur when there are specific stimuli.


How to help children with anxiety

These are some tips to follow to help the little ones overcome and mitigate their anxiety state.

1. Give clear patterns of behavior

Many times, anxiety appears as a reaction to a chaotic environment, which is not understood. For example, it is not uncommon for childhood anxiety to arise in experiences in which there is a contradiction in the rules of behavior to be followed at home.

That is why it is important to be consistent with these rules, not force the children to obey arbitrary and changing rules , and above all make sure that they understand them and understand why they make sense, even if it is by means of very simplified explanations about their usefulness.

2. Communicate more and better

At a certain age, young children already they are able to express in words what it is that makes them feel bad . The fact that their cognitive skills are not yet fully developed does not mean that their point of view should not count; in these cases, quite the opposite.

3. Show support

The fact that a child feels protected by an adult makes him fear the environment, since he feels that even if he makes a mistake and does something wrong, the presence of the caregivers will act as a buffer or cushion.

4. Affect them

Not all stimuli have to be based on information expressed through words. The signs of affection are essential for proper development during childhood, and in fact it is necessary to rely on it for children to develop adaptive attachment styles.

5. Explain that they should not feel bad

When you experience anxiety, it is easy to fall into the trap of blaming yourself. This also happens in the case of children, so it must be made clear that it is a phenomenon in which, consciously, we can only influence indirectly.


Recognizing and Treating Problematic Fear and Anxiety in Children | #UCLAMDChat Webinar (June 2021).


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