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Go away worry, not Today…. Addressing Childhood Anxiety

Like adults, children can experience heighten anxiety and worrying. There is a level of balance to anxiety when it comes to addressing it early in childhood. Importantly, understanding the signs and symptoms of anxiety can result in early interventions and coping skills necessary to navigate day to day life.



There is a misconception that children should have nothing to worry about. In fact, there is a vast majority of children that just worry about the safety of their parents! Of course, there are much bigger things to worry about given the high-risk community violence, parental anxiety, and peer relationships, to name a few.


Addressing childhood anxiety within a child can be difficult, as children aren’t able to effectively name an emotion. Here are a few signs to better assist with recognizing anxiety within your young one! In any case, identifying a qualified professional and seeking additional help is ALWAYS the most effective strategy.


Signs of childhood anxiety:


Toddlers

  • increased irritability

  • excessive crying/tantrums

  • difficulty with sleep routine

  • struggle to stop crying when primary caregiver leaves

Young Children

  • excessive crying

  • clinginess behaviors

  • lacks being redirected

  • bed wetting

  • seeks reassurance more often (“mommy”, “daddy” look at me!)

According to the CDC (April 13, 2022), "9.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 5.8 million) had diagnosed anxiety in 2016-2019 and 4.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 2.7 million) have diagnosed depression in 2016-2019".

In some cases, children may externalize aggressive behaviors, somatic complaints, headaches, and avoidance of familiar places.


In my newly published children's book, “Go Away Worry, Not Today”, provides a quick conversation starter for parents noticing early signs of anxiety. Helping your child 1) identify what worries them, 2) ways to cope/relax, and 3) normalizing your own anxiety as a parent, can be challenging first steps but vital to early intervention. Modeling appropriate responses to stressful situations can provide reassurance and increase resilience.


Reference


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (last update April 13, 2022). Anxiety and depression in children: Get the facts. Retrieved from Anxiety and depression in children: Get the facts | CDC




Written By Natasha D. Bonner LPC, NCC

Memphis Local Psychotherapist


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