Managing everyday stress is a skill developed over a lifetime that many adults still struggle to master. Healthy levels of anxiety can be helpful in some situations; however, anxiety can also become excessive and interfere with everyday life. While the worries children experience may seem small compared to the stresses of adults, high levels of anxiety in children have been shown to have an impact throughout the lifespan and may even worsen over time if not identified and treated.
Children often express anxiety differently than the way adults experience anxiety. This is because children do not have the cognitive tools and experiences that adults have to express and cope with these feelings. Children do not have the words or knowledge to label these uncomfortable feelings as anxiety, and may not be sure how to express them, even to trusted adults. While an adult can usually identify the experience and source of anxiety, and then reason through how best to manage the feeling, a child might act out behaviorally, withdraw, or try to avoid a scary or anxiety-provoking situation altogether. Even teens struggle with expressing fears or asking for help, particularly with parents, when their friendships and peer groups are seen as most important. This is especially true given pressure on teens to be independent and self-reliant.
For parents, it can be tricky to tell how their children are managing these pint-sized worries, and trickier still to determine where to draw the line between a healthy or “normal” worry and when to seek help from a professional.
Worry for children stems from what is happening around them in day-to-day life. It may be hard for parents to remember what scared them or caused anxiety when they were younger. This guide will help parents identify typical developmental reactions for children and adolescents as well as related worries they might experience at each age. Keep in mind that this guide is a general overview of what might be typical, because every child is different. Children reach milestones at slightly different times. Similarly, every child will worry about different things at different times.
If your child is experiencing anxiety call Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services at (512) 246-7225 or email us at email@example.com to schedule an appointment with one of our child and adolescent anxiety specialists. We are currently accepting new patients at our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices.