Anxiety in a Seven Year Old

Written by bonnie swain schindly
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Anxiety in a Seven Year Old
Separation anxiety is common between the ages of 7 and 9 years. (family mother father and child under sky image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from Fotolia.com)

Apprehension in a 7 year old often is triggered by separation anxiety. This is a typical age when a child worries about a parent dying or leaving. A mother may notice that her child suddenly becomes clingy, begs to stay home from school each day and is too frightened to sleep alone. Parents need to ask the right questions so they can guide their children as they establish their independence.

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Separation Anxiety Disorder

Young children are expected to be fearful when they are separated from their parents or caregivers. Their anxiety lessens as they develop more self-reliance. When their uneasiness becomes excessive, the diagnosis may be Separation Anxiety Disorder. A child who is afflicted with this condition is unable to handle friendships with his peers or participate in activities because his dread of being apart from his parents is too overwhelming.

Symptoms

A child might tell her parents that she has stomach pains, dizziness or a rapid pulse. These symptoms usually strike on school days, never on weekends. Children have difficulty falling asleep and speak of having nightmares in which something frightening happens to their parents. The youngster might scream and panic when his parents go away for the evening and leave him with a babysitter. The tantrum could be triggered simply by having a parent walk out of the room. Bedtime becomes an obstacle when the frightened child cannot cope with sleeping alone.

Facts

Separation Anxiety Disorder strikes during three separate age brackets: between ages 5 and 6 years, 7 and 9 years, and 12 and 14 years. Twelve per cent of young people will be affected by this ailment before age 18 years.

Delving Deeper

A toddler believes he is the centre of the universe. By age 7, she has had enough experiences to realise that many things take place independent of her and that her parents cannot comfort her every time something negative occurs. She faces her own mortality. Also, children feel vulnerable prior to taking significant developmental leaps. For example, 1 year olds become needy right before they start to walk. For a 7 year old, he may exhibit panic because he is becoming more cognizant of the world around him.

Ask Questions

A parent should ask plenty of questions because 7 year olds cannot always express themselves. The adult should inquire about when the episodes occur, whether they are worse at certain times, and which emotions are sparked. All of these issues should not be covered in one conversation but spread over several talks. A mother and father need to coach the youngster into taking action when the fear strikes, such as remembering a happy occasion with the parent, telephoning the mother or father, or carrying a photograph of that particular adult. These steps will assist their sons and daughters in building confidence so they feel they have some control over their circumstances.

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