It’s normal for children to show signs of anxiety, worries and fears sometimes. In most cases, anxiety in children and fears in childhood come and go and don’t last long.
In fact, different anxieties often develop at different stages. For example:
Babies and toddlers often fear loud noises, heights, strangers and separation.
Preschoolers might start to show fear of being on their own and of the dark.
School-age children might be afraid of supernatural things (like ghosts), social situations, failure, criticism or tests, and physical harm or threat.
Babies and young children don’t tend to worry about things. For children to be worried, they have to imagine the future and bad things that might happen in it. This is why worries become more common in children over eight years of age.
Children also worry about different things as they get older. In early childhood, they might worry about getting sick or hurt. In older childhood and adolescence, the focus becomes less concrete. For example, they might think a lot about war, economic and political fears, family relationships and so on.
Some people are more likely to be anxious because anxiety runs in the family – just like eye colour, for example.
People can also learn to think and behave in an anxious way by watching others, or by going through scary experiences.
Certain things in a child’s environment might also increase the child’s chances of becoming anxious. For example, if a parent is overprotective of a shy child, it might help the child in the short term, but it can increase the child’s anxiety overall.