Children are innocence personified and childhood, with its lack of stress, is the most beautiful stage of life for most of us. Ironically however, stress and anxiety in children has become rather commonplace in today’s world. Studies have found that one in every eight child falls prey to anxiety disorders. These children experience fear, nervousness and shyness; their reserved attitude may even make them avoid people, places and activities. Such children show signs of emotional incapacities, violent behavior, social phobia and often lack interest in otherwise interesting activities. Other disorders that come along with anxiety are eating disorders, depression and Attention Deficit or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children suffering from anxiety disorder are often seen performing poorly at school; they may also lose interest in important social involvements and are quite prone to substance abuse. Let’s find out the main causes of anxiety in children so that we can nip it in the bud and provide a better childhood to our little ones.
Causes Of Anxiety In Children
There is no single cause for anxiety; it’s a number of factors that contribute to a child’s anxiety. Researchers have categorized the potential causes of anxiety in children into these groups.
Like Father, Like Son
Yes, anxiety can be genetic! It has been found that children of anxious parents are seven times more prone to have anxiety disorders than other children. However, genetics are not the only reasons for anxiety. In fact, they account for only 30-40% of all such cases. There are numerous genes that add to a child's anxiety disorder and no one gene in particular can be blamed. The genes affect how cells in the child body respond to various situations.
Lead With Example
Growing children consider their parents or care-takers to be their role models. Consequently, growing up in a family where fear and anxiety are repetitively shown to children, by their role models, can “teach” them to be anxious as well. For example, when parents identify the world as a threatening place, they are most likely to suggest their children to avoid situations instead of facing them. An overcautious parent may, in an effort to protect the child from anxiety, deprive him from the important learnings in life. This increases the chances of anxiety because the child isn’t prepared to face life’s situations. So, try not to cross the thin line between protection and over protection – for your kid must learn his lessons in life, well-in-time, to be a strong person.
The Brain Game
A part of the brain, known as Amygdala, is responsible for triggering responses of human brain in an event of threat. Threat, for children, may be something as simple as losing a toy or taking a test. Amygdala makes an attempt to protect the person from such dangers in future and keeps a track of all things that indicate danger. A malfunction in this part can also cause unnecessary anxiety among children. In addition to this, scientists have proved that anxiety can also be due to an imbalance of important chemical messengers (serotonin and dopamine) in the brain.
Environment of The Child
Some situations like parental divorce, physical trauma, deaths in the family and frequent relocations disturb the child’s own sense of structure and order of their world. These can also stimulate anxiety. In addition to this, raging parental expectations also burden children to a huge extent and can generate anxiety out of competition. We, as parents, worry so much about what a child will become tomorrow that we forget that we don't let the child enjoy the present moment.
Harold Hulbert once said “Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it.” This stands true beyond doubt. Do not pressure your child more than their tender minds can take. Remember, nurturing a child is all about love, support and care.