Child anxiety, just like that of adults, is a normal, healthy emotion, that’s felt as a response to certain stimuli. But when anxiety becomes recurring, irrational, and intense, it may be considered to be a disorder.
Recurring episodes of anxiety attacks can disable the child from performing their duties at school and home.
Although anxiety attacks don’t cause any long-term harm to the child, they can definitely affect how the child lives.
Since children are generally more mentally fragile than adults, they are usually more vulnerable to the effects of these attacks. This can, in turn, make them seem more severe than the adult version.
But what are some of the causes?
Here are 4 of the most common causes of a child anxiety attack:
School Phobia and Separation Anxiety
When a child reaches a certain age, they can sometimes develop a ‘school phobia’. What happens, is the child becomes excessively fearful of going to school. The child then creates reasons why they shouldn’t go to school, or complains of ailments such as toothache, headache, stomach ache, etc., to keep him or her from going to school.
School phobia is often linked to separation anxiety but the latter can manifest in situations other than in school. (e.g. being with a group of people, or staying with other family members for the weekend).
Separation anxiety is an excessive fear of being away from someone that the child is comfortable being with. The signs of separation anxiety are similar to school phobia.
Stress has been linked to anxiety attacks for many years. The child’s undue stress may be a result of heavy responsibilities at home and/or in school. For example, unfinished tasks, physical and psychological abuse. (eg: a school bully, or an environment that is unfit for the child’s age, ie: violence, etc.)
Change in lifestyle
Over time, a child creates friends at their school and in the neighborhood. These friends would make him or her feel comfortable and accepted. So when the family moves to another place, or the child has to move to a different school, the child loses the friends and comfort they had established and it forces them to start all over again. If the child can’t cope with this stressful situation, it can lead to an episode of an anxiety attack.
In many cases, anxiety attacks seem to happen without any logical, clear, or apparent reason. It may occur while the child was previously relaxed during the day. Perhaps, an anxiety attack is brought about by unresolved internal issues, which are not directly connected with the trigger. For example, a child who experiences the death of a loved one may panic whenever a certain, almost similar situation happens. The traumatic experience they went through in the past, which was not processed properly can come out, in this case through an attack.
A child may also show episodes of anxiety attacks because the problem at hand reminded him or her about family conflicts. Fighting in the family, as well as the divorce of parents, may be traumatic to a child and if they should happen to witness a similar situation, that can sometimes trigger an attack.
As with adult attacks, there’s not usually a single reason why a child will suffer an anxiety attack, but when they do, it’s important to know how to deal with it properly.
Although the same is true for child anxiety attacks in that they aren’t in and of themselves dangerous, they can be scary for the child. So, it’s important they understand nothing physical is going to happen to them.
Stay with them and talk them through the experience while it’s happening. If you remain calm and supportive, they’ll find it much easier to deal with.