Is Your Child Worrying Too Much?

You can bet your bottom dollar that nearly everyone in this day and age dreams of hours spent simply lazing on a lounge chair with a tall, cold and slightly alcoholic drink in hand.  As for me, it’s either that or speeding along the freeway in a hot pink convertible.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a worry-free day!

Much as we hate to admit it, worry and stress have inevitably become part and parcel of our daily adult lives.  We can’t seem to shake off those petty preoccupations no matter how hard we try.

That’s what sets children apart from us.  They live in the present moment and play with nary a care in the world.  Save for the occasional fear of the monster behind the closet or that he might fail at a math exam, kids are pretty much worry-free.

There are some kids though, who seem to worry a bit more than usual.  How can you tell if your child has turned into a compulsive worrywart?  According to psychologist Christopher McCurry, these are the four things we parents must look for:

Intensity.  Is your child’s anxious reaction a little way out of proportion to certain events or situations?

Frequency.  Does your kid have an anxious episode everyday?

Duration.  How long does his fearful episode last?   How long before he recovers?

Interference.   Are his fears starting to interfere with his daily life?  Is he starting to avoid going to school or to a friend’s house?

Also, look out for physical signs of fear, such as stomach pains, a fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, and trouble breathing.

If your child appears to have transformed into a worrywart extraordinaire, then it’s time to take action.  As a parent, you can help your child cope by gradually preparing your child for upcoming stressful situations.   If he’s going to a new school, for instance, you can visit the school a couple of times before school actually starts, and explain the changes that will happen.  Try to really listen to your child and show empathy.  Show your child that his fears are irrational.

Children do look up to their parents, so be sure that you are modeling good behavior.  If you are an overly anxious person yourself, your kid will most probably turn out the same.  Come up with effective stress-coping and worry-banishing strategies, and your child will follow suit.



About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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  1. Anne Mercado says

    Based on the four indicators, my child isn’t a worrier – which is good. Grandma is though which is why I jokingly tell her to “relax.”

    Great information! I learned something new today. Thank you!

  2. I dont’ handle stress very well. I know that and I need to handle it better to show by example to my girls how to handle it better.

  3. I have to admit, that I have not always modeled the best stress-management for my kids. But seeing my oldest daughter begin to worry more than usual stopped me in my tracks! Thanks for this reminder.

    • I hope your daughter starts worrying less. I’m sure you’ll know what to do to help ease her worries :). Thanks for visiting.

  4. I think my son worries more than your average four-year-old, but so far he’s pretty good at vocalizing his fears – which goes a long ways towards resolving fears and helping him find resources to deal with his concerns!

  5. Kristy @PampersandPinot says

    I have worked with kids before where I wonder if they have a real anxiety disorder going on. I think people sometimes don’t realize that this can occur in kids – great post for shedding light on the subject!

  6. I am definitely a worrier, but I know it, and try to fight it back a lot. This is such great advice, and you just don’t think about your children worrying like you do. Of course, they would pick up that vibe though, and follow your example. Great post!

  7. For the most part my kids are pretty relaxed. I know when mydauhter has a show for choir or gymnastics she does stress for about a day before the show,but once she starts Its ALL good.

    • You seem to have a confident daughter :). Probably because you’re always there to encourage her to develop her talents.

  8. momto8blog says

    this is an informative post! I am always looking for clues from my kids to make sure things are going ok…seems we have to pay attention to their habits, mannerisms etc..

  9. The other day my husband and I were talking about how we were almost in a serious car accident. Our son heard us talking and insisted on sleeping on the floor in our room that night…I decided that talking about these things in front of kids is not a good idea!

    • This article struck a chord with me. In spite of the fact that I’m a single mom who owns her own business (translation–money is a recurring theme around here)my son has been remarkably worry-free (he’s now fifteen). The big worry for him has been, “What happens if you die, Mom?”

      That’s a tough one, but it’s sparked me to do something every parent should do–cultivate a decent working relationship with his dad, and make a workable plan should the Worst Happen. We’ve talked to his dad and gotten his agreement that my son would stay with a kind, loving, supportive woman who is part of a large extended family. They’ve kind of adopted him, which means that he has good, stable relationships with the men in the family as well as the women–and he knows what the plan is if I go away in some irrevocable fashion.

      • Even if it is against our will sometimes, yes, we do have to cultivate a good relationship with the kid’s father. We owe that to our kids :)

        Thanks for visiting.

    • We should really be careful about what we say in front of our kids. I remember when I was little, I was also too afraid of losing my parents.

  10. Thanks for sharing this…I will definitely look for this once my son gets older!

  11. I think anxiety is more common in children then we know. I have a real anxiety problem as an adult but didn’t find out I had a problem till late in life. I thought this is just how I am and probably everyone feels like this. But looking back into my childhood I can see that I always had this problem…even then. I would shake and fidget. I had chronic nightmares. I was always worried about the death of my parents. All symptoms of anxiety. I think its important to recognize the symptoms in kids before they turn to drugs for relief.

    • Thanks for the insight. In hindsight, yes, I think I too was a chronic worrier as a kid. That has carried over into adulthood.

  12. Yes, I have worried about this a lot. My daughter has to have everything in a CERTAIN place. My little guy has started to say, “I scare” which isn’t the same thing really but still makes my heart melt!! :-)

  13. Jeremiah Knight says

    It makes you curious if there was a particular event which perhaps traumatized them to the point of being so anxious and worried. If there was I would hire a lawyer to get compensation so I could take the steps necessary to help my kids.

  14. Actually I never experience this on my children. they never keeping there secrets on me, everything I know it from them.

    • You’re lucky your kids are open about their feelings. Maybe you have already instilled good communication skills in them :)

  15. Matt Hempsell says

    i think children are greatly influenced by the people around them. if there parents are worried about things, the children will pick up on it and start acting out.

  16. This actually makes a lot of sense. Good that he is letting you know

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