What child doesn’t at some point worry about monsters under the bed or fear the dark?
But how do you know if your child’s worry is normal or when it needs extra attention?
Children experience a wide range of emotions as they grow, interact with and make sense of their world. Typically children have fears and worries that are considered age appropriate and ‘normal’. These fears also pass with time.
If it seems that your child’s worries and fears are out of proportion to the situation, are not improving, or are causing distress that interferes with his learn- ing, play or enjoyment of life, your child may be at risk of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is the most common disorder in primary age children, affecting 6.9 per cent of children aged 4-11 years.
Some signs parents might look for that their child may be experiencing anxiety:
- Has lots of persistent worries and fears
- Seeks reassurance often
- Avoids situations that make them feel anxious
- Complains of physical pains (stomach aches, headaches)
- Fears taking risks
- Upsets easily
The reassuring news is that anxiety disorders are treatable. There are a range of talking and behavioural therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy that can help.
If you are concerned about your son or daughter, start with a conversation with the school counsellor, who, depending on the presentation and severity, may suggest a brief school-based therapy intervention or will direct you to the appropriate service.
Rachael Kelly is a Psychologist at Cairns Catholic Education