Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in Preschoolers
A preschooler with an intense tendency to worry about anything and everything may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Understanding its symptoms, causes and health risks can help you treat this disorder in your little one.
Does your kid abnormally worry too much or feels overwhelmed with fear over a situation? Then, perhaps, he may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Though, some amount of anxious feelings or worries are quite common in a young child, if you find it in excess, then you need to understand the reason behind it and treatment to be taken.
A child with GAD usually worries about anything and everything around him, including his daily routine. He may want to comprehend details of every scenario and need constant reassurance that everything is fine. If he dreads a situation, then he may feel restless, fatigued, annoyed or stressed out. As a result, this type of anxiety disorder affects his development, quality of life and social interactions.
You can identify a kid suffering from GAD through following symptoms:
- Worrying about day to day situations and tasks
- Scared of strange or new environment
- Feeling nervous all the time
- Prolonged disturbed sleep
- Separation anxiety
- Unrealistic fears
- Asking questions like: ‘what if’ ,‘why this is happening’ or ‘what’s happening’ frequently
- Seeking constant assurance and comfort
Apart from behavioural, they also show some physical signs:
- Pain in muscles or weakness
GAD can result from various factors such as behaviour, temperament, genetics, biochemical or life situations- like child abuse. What matters is to identify the right cause of this type of anxiety disorder so that you can seek the right treatment for your toddler.
Ignoring GAD can be detrimental to your kid’s overall health. He may develop a negative attitude or a low self-esteem. He may withdraw himself from social interactions and prefer to avoid all routine activities. Moreover, he may also affect his physical and mental well-being in the long run.
General Tips to Handle Generalized Anxiety
- Divert their thought process from ‘worst possible’ situations to ‘most lively’ situations.
- Encourage them to talk to you about their inner feelings and worries instead of ignoring or unreasonably reacting to their words.
- Let them seek answers to their worries on their own, albeit through rational thinking. Answering their questions every time may dissuade them to learn handling situations themselves.
- If your child is using a comfort object or a lucky charm to feel safe or to avoid being panicky in a certain situation, it is acceptable. However, encourage him to reduce his dependency on such objects by presenting him with new situations.
- You may want your child’s caretaker at home or in the school to be mindful about situations when they should be ignoring the child’s worries or when they should be taking them seriously.
- A worrisome child may make you feel helpless or frustrated. However, patience and compassion are the key virtues in handling generalized anxiety.
- Make your child feel good and confident with words of encouragement and praise him for his good behaviour.
A professional help is always recommended if your anxious kid moves to extreme behaviour or develops physical problems. The doctor will assess his disorder and then recommend a psychotherapeutic or pharmacological treatment for him.
A child with GAD may possibly grow out of this condition over a period of time. All he needs is a constant family support, behavioural therapy and right medication.