Children and Anxiety
Children have fears that adults often don’t understand. At certain ages children seem to have more fears than at others. Nearly all children develop fears of the dark, monsters, witches, or other fantasy images. Over time, these normal fears fade. But when they persist or when they begin to interfere with a child’s normal daily routine, he or she may need the attention of a mental health professional.
As in adults, simple phobias in children are overwhelming fears of specific objects such as an animal, or situations such as being in the dark, for which there is no logical explanation. These are very common among young children. One study reported that as many as 43 percent of children aged six to 12 in the general population have seven or more fears, but these are not phobias.
Often, these fears go away without treatment. In fact, few children who suffer from fears or even mild phobias get treatment. However, a child deserves professional attention if he or she is so afraid of dogs, for example, that he or she is terror-stricken when going outside regardless of whether a dog is nearby. Dealing with anxiety in children early can often mean that they will not suffer to the same extent with anxiety in adulthood.