Anxiety: How young is too young?

Anxiety sucks, it can lead to many negative outcomes that can have serious impacts on people’s lives. I know not a bold statement out of the gate, if you have anxiety you know this. So when is the right time to identify symptoms of Anxiety? 20? 50? 7? What if anxiety is something you have had all your life as early as you can remember? At 5 you were anxious, 11…. The good news is Anxiety is being studied more broadly now than ever before. I found a good article here on how some scientists are beginning to look at anxiety in very young kids.

From the article: “For an anxious child, seemingly normal activities can be hard. Worried kids have trouble adjusting to school, making friends, and learning. They can feel inhibited, avoiding challenges by running away or retreating into themselves. While parents may feel desperate to help, their approaches can backfire. For example, trying to talk kids out of their feelings or keep them away from anxiety-producing situations may inadvertently make the anxiety worse.”

This of course is the normal “first step” every parent out there tries to help their kids with the tools they have. Sometimes it makes things worse and not by desire of course, the assumption is by many parents their relative experience in the issue is similar to that of the child’s hence their advice should be applicable.

Laugh with your kids, it’s awesome.

The article essentially debunks that notion as anxiety is an individual condition for the most part. I mean if there is a fire in a building everyone is going to feel a degree of anxiety. The social triggers of most anxieties though are individual based and the article/study do a remarkable job of outlining the subtleties of the issue as it pertains to very young people.

My instinct on this is extremely cautious. I am heartened by the notion that there is an effort to help children deal with an issue that over time can blossom into a full blown debilitating condition. On the other hand, I have always believed that a degree of freedom is necessary for kids to figure out for themselves how to navigate life and the situations that it presents, within reason of course.

In the end this is a net positive as minimally this will help the kids who do have serious anxiety issues. It will also give guidance and a playbook for the adults in the kids’ lives on what they may be able to do to help. In the end more research, more awareness, more avenues to discuss and treat anxiety is a net positive for everyone.

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