Anxieties and Phobias in Children

A certain amount of anxiety is completely normal. Examples might be: starting a new school, moving home, parents separating, etc. It is only when the anxiety starts to affect a child’s everyday life that it becomes a problem. It is at this stage that it is wise to visit your doctor and get a specialised opinion if needs be a referral.

Childhood Phobias

A childhood phobia is an exaggerated, intense fear often characterised by a preoccupation with a particular object, surroundings, or situation that can quite often, lead to avoidance. Fear is a natural part of growing up, it helps children act with caution to stay safe. It is only when some kind of traumatic event or situation triggers panic and the child then attaches the terrifying symptoms they are experiencing with their surroundings, situation, or object around them that a phobia might develop. Children are all different, as are the phobias they may live with. They will vary in intensity and duration.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Children and Youths
  • Difficulty to concentrate
  • Upset tummy or a general feeling of unwellness.
  • Refusing food or being ‘picky’
  • Problems sleeping or waking in the night/nightmares
  • Moodiness / temper tantrums
  • Excessive worrying
  • Being generally negative
  • Shying away from company
  • Upset or crying more than normal
  • Toilet troubles
Effects on parents

The effects on parents can be very distressing because it is so difficult for a youngster to explain how they are feeling or what they are experiencing.  Very often the child might not even be able to put into words what they are going through.  Which can be terribly frustrating for both sides. 

Do Anxiety Disorders Fade Away Naturally with Time?

It is fair to say that many children will grow out of their fears and worries. However, this is not always the case. If you are worried then it is a good idea to ask for help.

Where to Seek Help
  1. Your doctor.
  2. Teacher or headmaster/headmistress.
  3. School nurse.
  4. Local education authority (ask for the child psychology dept.)
  5. Charities like No Panic
  6. Local family health services authority.

How can No Panic help you?

No Panic’s Youth One-to-One Mentoring Recovery Programme is a 6 week, one hour per week telephone course with a No Panic Mentor. We use cognitive behavioural therapy to develop an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings, actions and physiology. It also explores interventions that youths can make in relation to changing their way of thinking and behaviour towards fear by using desensitisation techniques. The programme also focuses on goal setting. We encourage youths to look at all aspects of their life and to focus on the key goals that will improve their wellness. We coach on how through simple goal setting and regular self-appraisal, individuals can take personal responsibility and regain control of their lives. Find out more……

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3 thoughts on “Anxieties and Phobias in Children”

  1. Sussann Sandekvist

    Please can somebody help me with my 7 year old daughter. I do not know what to do to help her she has gone from a happy confident girl to a scared mouse please help

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