Anita Pal, M. Sc.
Books for Parents
Books for Children and Teens
Tips to Help Children Cope
Whatever the cause of the anxiety, there are a number of constructive things that a parent can do to assist their child.
For more information about child based anxiety issues feel free to contact Anita Pal.
When to seek Professional Help
If you notice that anxiety is a recurring problem for your child and that it is interfering with their normal functioning at home or at school, seeing a qualified mental health professional can help. Also ask your child about school. Sometimes symptoms of anxiety, especially if they developed quickly, are a sign that your child is being bullied. When seeking services for your child do not hesitate to ask lots of questions of therapists you may consider. If you have access to a paediatrician this can be a good place to start to ask for a referral to a qualified therapist. The internet can also be a source of starting information to explore local resources in your community.
Anxiety in Children
Contrary to what some might think, children experience anxiety on a daily (sometimes may seem like an hourly) basis! Anxiety is a normal reaction to change or in anticipation of change. In fact, human beings rely on anxiety as a signal that something needs to be noticed or attended to.
Anxiety, however, can prove unhelpful if it becomes paired with feelings of helplessness. This combination can become a barrier to your child accomplishing age appropriate developmental tasks and can contribute to long term problems. Examples of “unhelpful” forms of anxiety include anxiety that leads to school avoidance behaviours or somatic complaints such as frequent stomach aches or headaches. Anxiety is also unhelpful if it is interfering with your child getting to sleep or staying asleep. Long term feelings of high anxiety and helplessness can also contribute to development of adult anxiety disorders and eating disorders. Children with perfectionism or unrealistic expectations that they should be able to do everything right the first time may experience high levels of anxiety about trying new things. This can impede a child from taking the risks necessary to learn new skills or prevent them from developing the emotional tolerance to deal with the uncertainty of new situations.
Children can also experience strong feelings of anxiety as a result of family disruptions such as changes in schools, moving households, divorce, loss, or witnessing domestic violence. Other contributing situations can include performance based expectations connected to competitive sports or activities, or in relation to school based expectations that they may feel unable to meet.