Childhood anxiety and regressionAnxiety is defined as "apprehension without apparent cause." When a child feels scared or threatened, when in fact there's no immediate threat to a person's safety or well being.
Anxiety makes someones heart beat quickly, the child may sweat, and feel "butterflies" in the stomach. However, all children feel a bit of anxiety on a regular basis. When confronted with new situations and when their vivid imaginations create misconception about events. This is typical in the hospital. For example, when a child hears they are going to get a CAT Scan, and vividly imagine a cat or kitty being involved somehow.
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. Having some fears or anxieties about certain things can also be helpful because it makes kids act in a safe way. For example, a toddler with a fear of fire or being burned would avoid items that are "HOT" and would certainly avoid playing with matches.
The nature of anxieties and fears change as kids grow and develop:
- Babies experience stranger anxiety, clinging to parents when confronted by people they don't recognize.
- Toddlers around 10 to 18 months old experience separation anxiety, becoming emotionally distressed when one or both parents leave.
- Kids ages 4 through 6 have anxiety about things that aren't based in reality, such as fears of monsters and ghosts.
- Kids ages 7 through 12 often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them, such as bodily injury and natural disaster.
adapted from Many Anxieties and Fears are Normal at www.kidshealth.org