Is Anxiety more common now?
Yes. I do believe so. Over the 25 years I've been working with children I've seen a dramatic jump in anxiety among them. Of course, every child experiences anxiety at some time in their lives. We cannot, nor should we, shield them from it. But when your child is crippled by anxiety, whether its unusual fears, phases they are going through or a generalised anxiety that persists over a long period, you start to fear yourself that their life will be adversely affected indefinitely.
What causes it?
There are many reasons for a child being over-anxious: heredity factors, environment factors, significant events, habitual thinking patterns. For every anxious child there is a different set of circumstances that have brought them to this point. In my teaching work I come across lots of smart kids, deep thinkers and quirky learners. These tend to be the kinds of kids who worry overmuch and thus fall prey to anxiety. But often children will develop anxiety issues after a frightening experience or simply as part of their growing up. It is normal for young children to have fears, of the dark, of being lost, of falling over etc. These fears usually change over time and are replaced with different fears as the child approaches adolescence, when fear of social ostracisation is most prominent.
What can we do about it?
There are many good books on the market for parents and teacher of anxious children but not many books for kids themselves. This is why I wrote my book 12 Annoying Monsters - Self Talk for Kids with Anxiety It was originally written for the children I taught, but as the first 100 copies sold quickly and I began doing workshops in schools, I realised I needed to make this book available to children all over the world. So many parents are desperate to help their anxious child. This book is a fun, informative way to open up the conversation between parents and children. It's also designed as a stand alone book for children to read by themselves and make it their own resource. I've had amazing feedback from parents and kids, psychologists and teachers that this book really helps them.
And that's what it's all about, for me.