Managing the anxious child

Children who persistently or frequently experience high anxiety need help, says psychologist Jennie Hudson, Professor and Director of the Centre for Emotional Health, at Sydney’s Macquarie University.

“There has been a tendency to believe kids are going to grow out of [their anxiety]”, she said. In the past, anxiety in children was believed to be normal part of growing up. In fact, in the first Australian Child and Adolescent Mental Health survey in 1998, the question of anxiety disorders in children was not included at all.

But the reality is, anxious children grow into anxious teenagers and then into anxious adults, and by then it is not only harder to treat it is also too late to reverse much of the negative impact this condition has had on these people’s lives, she explained in an interview following her presentation on the subject at HealthEd’s Mental Health in General Practice evening seminar held recently in Sydney.

“Children need strategies to manage their anxiety now, ” she said. “We, as health professionals need to be encouraging parents to seek help if they feel their child’s anxiety is interfering with their life.”

For GPs who are wondering about the most appropriate advice to give parents of anxious children, a key principle is to encourage children not to avoid ...

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