Childhood anxiety is a common part of growing up. In early childhood it often involves separation anxiety from caregivers, worries about being harmed, and bedtime fears of scary thoughts or dreams.
In middle childhood, kids often worry about being good enough – academically, athletically, behaviorally, socially. They may begin to struggle with self-doubts that develop into performance anxieties or social anxieties that can get acutely worse in middle school.
In adolescence, teenagers worry constantly about fitting in with peers, belonging, and also finding their unique strengths and identity. Their minds become more adult-like, which unfortunately includes constantly racing minds: worrying about what they have to do, how well they’ll do, how they’ll fit it all in, what others think of them, and if they’re really worthy enough (for parents, teachers, peers, intimate partners). Self-doubts can snowball into self-denigrating thoughts and self-defeating behaviors.
When Anxiety Runs Amok
Moments of anxiety are completely normal for all of us. They come and they go. But when they persist – with high frequency or intensity – and when they start to interfere with daily functioning – with the child doing his or her “job” – then it may be time to seek some professional help.
One in 8 children suffer from an Anxiety Disorder of some kind. That is, their bodies get tense, tight, jittery, or even sick. Their minds race with repeated ruminations – worrying about “What if’s…” and “Woulda, coulda, shoulda’s…” They avoid or hide or lash out in stressful situations. Their worlds get smaller as they shrink from facing the challenges – and even joys – of life. Parent, teacher, and student frustrations all grow as the child seems to want to do well, but increasingly is at a loss for how to face and overcome the acute stress they feel.
What can you do? In my Mindful Solutions coaching programs, I help parents and kids learn to transform their relationship with anxiety and stress – clearly, calmly, and compassionately. Mindful solutions are based on the “3-A’s” of applying mindfulness to everyday problems:
5 Remedies for Childhood Anxiety
When it comes to dealing successfully with your child’s anxiety, you can teach your child how to find their own mindful solutions by using the “5-R’s”: