How do I know if my child’s worry is normal?

How do I know if my child’s worry is normal?

It is entirely normal for children to experience worry and stress; for a young child to be afraid of the dark; school age children to worry the night before a test or a teenager to be preoccupied with friendship groups.

For 1 in 8 children, worry can become a more serious habit that causes distress and limits their life. Your child is not alone.

Some children are able to tell their grown-ups that they are struggling with worry or stress. Most of the time, it will be communicated to you through their behaviour, behaviours which may leave you feeling confused, frustrated and uncertain about the underlying cause. Here are some common behaviours linked with worry, stress and anxiety that may help you determine if your child needs additional support.

Avoidance – your child may be especially shy or clingy. They may no longer want to be alone, leave the house, see their friends, go to school or engage in hobbies, even if these were things that they previously enjoyed.

Irritability or explosive anger outbursts – your child may have started to engage in explosive tantrums, seemingly out of proportion to the situation. These are most likely to occur when avoidance is no longer possible and they are forced to confront whatever is concerning them. You may also notice them becoming more aggressive towards you or their siblings.

Tearfulness – you may notice your child bursting into tears easily, for no apparent reason. They may seek regular comfort from you and be unable to describe what it is that’s upsetting them.

Feeling unwell – your child may complain of persistent stomach aches or feeling sick even though the GP has assured you there is nothing wrong.

Losing sleep – your child may find it challenging to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up in the morning. They may also complain of frequent nightmares.

Giving up – your child may give up easily on things even though you know that they are capable of achieving them.

Perfectionism – your child may be setting themselves unobtainable standards, which results in them taking a seemingly long time over tasks or getting easily frustrated over the tiniest mistake.

Preoccupied – your child may seem distant and distracted, as if they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. This makes it difficult for them to be present or connected with you.

Reassurance-seeking – your child may have started to seek more frequent reassurance from you yet may question or reject this when you offer it.

“What if” – your child may repeatedly question the future and live in constant fear of illness, death, burglary, failure or rejection.

Regression in physical abilities – your child may have started to experience toileting accidents or suddenly require carrying or feeding even though they are physically capable of doing these tasks themselves.

We know that the best possible outcomes are achieved the earlier we intervene with childhood anxiety.

We offer an initial telephone discussion free of charge to establish if you require our services. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more