Anxiety in Children: Is It More Than Worry?

Anxiety in Children: Is It More Than Just Worry?

While some level of worry is a natural part of childhood, parents and caregivers need to decide whether their child’s concerns are a typical response to everyday stressors or indicative of developmental anxiety. By understanding the differences, parents can provide the necessary support and seek appropriate interventions. Onebright aims to shed light on the subject, providing insights and guidance for parents who may be concerned about their child’s anxiety.

Understanding Developmental Anxiety

As parents, we naturally want the best for our children, striving to understand their emotions and behaviours to provide the best support possible. However, distinguishing between normal childhood worries and more serious anxiety can be challenging. While it’s common for children to feel worried or anxious at times, recognising when these feelings are part of normal development and when they might indicate something more concerning is crucial.


Learn About Therapy for Children and Young People

In this blog, we delve into the nuances of worry and anxiety in children. We’ll explore how these emotional experiences differ in their nature, intensity, and impact on a child’s daily life. By understanding these differences, parents can better support their child’s emotional well-being and seek appropriate help when needed.

Join us as we uncover the key distinctions between typical everyday worry and developmental anxiety. 

Why Children’s Anxiety Matters 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 8 UK children suffer from an anxiety disorder. 

This statistic highlights the need for parents and caregivers to acknowledge the issue and take an active role in trying to differentiate between a typical response to everyday stressors and a more serious and limiting anxiety response. 

How Do Worries Differ From Developmental Anxiety? 

Ordinary worries in children typically arise in response to specific events or situations, such as starting a new school year or making new friends. These concerns are generally transient and tend to subside once the problem is successfully navigated. 

On the other hand, developmental anxiety involves persistent and excessive worry that significantly interferes with a child’s daily life. Parents can observe if a child’s worries are disproportionate to the situation.

Symptoms may include:

  • Apparent and excessive fear
  • Avoidance of certain situations
  • Physical symptoms such as stomach pains and headaches
  • Irritability 
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in appetite

Recognising the above signs of developmental anxiety is crucial so parents and caregivers can provide early intervention and support.

How to help an anxious child?  

Parents can help by creating a nurturing environment that encourages an open dialogue about worries and anxieties. Validating a child’s feelings can go a long way in making them feel listened to and understood. 

There are also effective psychological interventions. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based talking therapy recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of anxiety. CBT helps to identify the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviours that keep anxiety going. It helps the child to identify triggers for their anxiety and teaches them strategies to face anxiety-provoking situations.

Seeking Support and Encouraging Open Dialogue

If you suspect your child may be struggling with developmental anxiety, it is crucial to seek professional guidance promptly. The cycle of poor mental health creates a significant burden for children, young people and their families.  Children and young people who receive effective evidence-based care at the right time to tackle the problem head-on before it gets worse are more likely to recover and return to full functioning (Early Intervention Foundation, 2023).

Onebright offers online CBT for anxiety in children and young people. Online CBT offers an opportunity for early intervention and provides accessible and efficient resources to help children effectively manage anxiety and develop resilience. 

Contact the Onebright team today to discuss accessing evidence-based therapy. 

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