If you have ever felt anxiety before you will know the terrifying feeling of being out of control, scared, lonely and all of the other fears that come with it.

Imagine being a small child with anxiety who doesn’t understand what their feelings mean or why they even have them? It would be damn scary!

We were lucky enough to speak with Clinical Psychologist and Author Sally-Anne McCormack about all things related to anxiety in children. What it means, why it happens and how you can help them.

What age can children feel anxiety?
There are studies that show babies as young as six months can get it. Some experts believe babies are born with anxiety and depression.

What are the signs of anxiety that parents need to look for?
Children of primary school age might complain of a sore tummy or legs. They do this because they can’t define the feelings they are having. As you can imagine, their body is being pumped with adrenaline which can make them feel sick. They might also feel constipated or have diarrhoea, start biting the sides of their mouth.  If there is nothing physically wrong with them you might want to turn your attention to anxiety. Other signs are perfectionism. They don’t want anything to go wrong and get really angry with themselves if they make a mistake.

Are there different degrees of anxiety in children?
Every person whether an adult or child feels anxiety at some stage. The difference is that kids might feel it because of a specific reason and then it goes away.

How can parents help their children?
The best thing you can do if your child has anxiety is not to treat them differently. Try not to feed the anxiety. If you buy into it too much and try and explain things in depth it can often lead to more questions and fuel the anxiety. Sometimes it is best to just change the subject. If you believe  their anxiety is severe and won’t go away on its own it’s best to speak to a specialist.

Does an anxious child develop into an anxious teenager/adult?
Without proper intervention or treatment it is likely. However if they learn how to control their thinking pattern at an early age it can definitely help. Unfortunately anxiety is 50% hereditary and 50% environment and it becomes something that people have to manage.

Website // www.sally-annemccormack.com.au
Facebook // www.facebook.com/thesallyanneshow
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Katy Ferguson

Katy Ferguson  

Katy began her career as a journalist in Coffs Harbour in 2006. Her work has since taken her to Canberra, Melbourne and the Gold Coast where she now lives with her husband, two daughters and crazy American Staffy. Since having kids, Katy now enjoys life as a freelance journalist for Seven News on the Gold Coast and River 949 in Ipswich. She also writes for haven and scout magazines. In her spare time you'll find her learning to surf at Currumbin Alley, walking her dog around Emerald Lakes and being a part-time taxi driver to her kids!