Children can have many fears, from the monster in the closet to deep rooted anxieties. Julie Ogata from Parentmap has tips on how parents can tell if their child is worrying too much.
Which childhood fears might be considered normal?
There are many recent studies show that 90-percent of all children have some kind of fear. Here's a bit of a guide for what's common at different ages.
For infant and toddlers, common fears include loud noises, separation from parents, new places and people.
For preschoolers, normal fears could be about ghosts and monsters, being afraid of the dark, sleeping alone and hearing thunder.
For school aged children, common worries include more realistic things such as getting hurt, getting bad grades, the death of a loved one, certain social situations, earthquakes, fires.
If your child's fears are not interfering with every day life...than it's probably very developmentally normal.
What signs can parents look for in a child who worries too much?
Here are four things parents can look for according to Seattle psychologist Christopher McCurry, who wrote a book about parenting an anxious child.
Look at intensity: Does your child's anxious reaction seem way out of proportion to events or situations?
Look at frequency: Is your child having some sort of anxious episode every day?
Look at the duration: How long does the event last? How long does it take to recover?
Look at interference: Is your child's worries interfering with day to day life. Do they resist going to school or a friend's house?
There are some physical signs to look for too...such as rapid heart rate, stomach aches, trouble breathing, sweaty palms and trembling.
What causes a child to be so anxious?
There is research that shows many anxious children have anxious parents. So it can be genetic, but there can be many outside factors too.
There could have been a traumatic event in your child's life that triggers deep fears, such as a divorce or a death.
Children can learn to be fearful of things from watching TV or movies or a friend.
Your child might just be more wired for worrying. They might have a low threshold for discomfort or they might be more reactive to stress.
Anxiety is now the single most diagnosed "mental health" condition for children.
What can a parent do to help?
If a parent turns to professional help, there's a good chance the treatment will be successful. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 81-percent of children ages 7 to 17 improved with 12 weeks of therapy.
If a parent knows of a stressful event that's coming up...a move or starting a new school. Prepare your child before with visits beforehand and carefully explain the changes. Listen to your child's fear and show empathy. Then try to give practical information to counteract any irrational worries. Let your child try to figure out solutions themselves.
If you find yourself in an anxious situation. Try to model positive coping strategies and set a good example for your anxious child.