Anxiety and Depression  |  Supporting Children

Managing Anxiety in Children

BY CHILD DEVELOPMENT UNIT, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

29 September 2020  |   3 min read

The team at the Child Development Unit, National University Hospital has developed a series of mental health resources on how parents can support a child’s social and emotional well-being from a young age.

In this article, we focus on managing anxiety in children.

Fear, worry and anxiety are a part of growing up. In fact, these emotions are experienced at all ages – even babies experience fear! It is normal for children to feel worried or anxious from time to time, especially after a negative event. However, when anxiety begins to affect their daily functioning, it is important to intervene.

Elizabeth Ragen and Fitriani Kwik, Senior Psychologists at the Child Development Unit, National University Hospital explain what anxiety is and share tips on how to manage it.

What is anxiety?

Causes of anxiety

  • Trauma: Life experiences or traumatic events may trigger brain reactions which can result in anxiety disorders
  • Genetics: Inherited traits may be a factor. A child is more likely to develop anxiety if a family member has clinical anxiety.
  • Stress buildup: Consecutive stressful or traumatic experiences may lead to anxiety
  • Underlying medical condition: Anxiety can be a result of an existing health condition (e.g. thyroid issues).

Common signs and symptoms of clinical anxiety

Physical

  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomachache
  • Nausea

Emotional

  • Crying
  • Nightmares
  • Worrying about the future
  • Oversensitive and grouchy

Behavioural

  • Flight: Avoidance of places, people, situations
  • Seeking reassurance constantly from parents/caregivers
  • Regression: Loss of acquired skills, being more clingy

Cognitive

  • Always talking and thinking about things that cause anxiety
  • Difficulties focussing
  • Preoccupied with things that could happen in the future

Strategies

When to seek professional help?

  • When anxiety is affecting daily functioning
  • Symptoms persist or worsen even after trying the above strategies
  • Lasts for more than 4 weeks

For more resources or to download the infographic, visit https://www.nuh.com.sg/cdu.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your health, physical fitness or medical condition.