Nicolò is 10 years old and worries constantly. He worries about his homework, he worries about his parents’ health, he worries that he has not fed the dog and that he will starve. Nicolò’s parents no longer show him the evening news because, when it happens, he spends the next two days worrying about the news he has heard.
They no longer tell Nicolò the news about him until the last moment, because when they do, he persecutes them relentlessly with constant questions about what will happen. This interrogation also takes place when the child has to do something unpleasant, such as a school check or if he has to go to the dentist, as Nicolò asks his parents for information and reassurance hundreds of times.
Anxiety in children
- All children have fears and phobias, it is a normal part of their development, and these can take many forms.
- For example, we know that very young children develop a fear of separating from their mother at the same time they begin to fear strangers and new people.
- A little later, many children are afraid of the dark and, at a certain point, some children begin to imagine monsters under the bed or thieves at the door.
- When these fears develop, they are generally part of the normal development process that everyone goes through.
However, sometimes the child’s fears, worries and anxiety can reach a point where they start to be a problem.
These excessive fears are often temporary, but they can cause the child so much suffering that a parent feels the need to help their child through this stage.
On the other hand, some children have fears and anxiety at a much higher intensity than others and some continue to feel these worries even for some time after other children have stopped feeling them.
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Many adults think that childhood is a time of carefree, without any responsibility. It might surprise you to know that anxiety in children is the most common problem reported by children of all ages.
Real anxiety disorders are diagnosed in 10% of children, while less intense, but always stressful fears are even more common.
When it reaches a certain level, the child’s anxiety is a real sign that he is suffering, it is not a way to receive attention. Anxiety can also cause strong interference in the child’s life, causing performance at school to drop, interfering with friendships and affecting the entire family. Furthermore, in some cases, anxiety during childhood can be the beginning of a similar difficulty in adulthood.
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Anxiety disorders in children are among the most common suffering conditions in children and adults. There are different types of anxiety disorders with different symptoms. However, they all share a common characteristic:
a prolonged and intense worry, disproportionate to the current situation and which affects the daily life and happiness of the person who experiences it.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder in children can occur suddenly or gradually and persist over time. Children with anxiety problems may not even know what causes their emotions and worries.
What can be done to help the child manage anxiety?
Treatments for anxiety in children have been used successfully for years, in different forms depending on the type of anxiety (and the type of child) you are facing, as each child expresses his or her concerns differently.
Since the factors that influence anxiety in the child are different (anxious thoughts, avoidance of feared situations, parenting strategies, the child’s temperament, etc.), the psychotherapy intervention works on each aspect in a focused way. .
Treatment of anxiety in children is primarily aimed at changing the thoughts and beliefs that lead them to see the world as an extremely dangerous place, while later the goal of anxiety therapy is to accompany the child to gradually face what worries him.
Parents are not left alone: the therapist analyzes with them the strategies used in order to find the most effective ways of managing anxiety for their child.