Anxious and Neurotic Children: What is wrong? What to do?

Another boy is screaming too much and trying to get everyone’s attention by loud clowning. Look at this girl at the table. She is liked by everyone and is smiling to people and trying to sing all songs. Everything is fine, but her mother is taking a girl to the bathroom and holds extra pens in her hands.

What is there in common for all these children? They are smart, are well taken care of, so why they are “neurotics”?

What is behind these children with stuttering, tics, enuresis (bedwetting in sleep), tantrums, and inadequate relationships with peers? They have some kind of anxiety disorder. But why and what they are afraid of? If you take them to a pediatrician, doctors usually find nothing organic and no concrete medical pathology. Psychotropic medications is not the answer also, so confused parents are taking their child to psychologists, but prolonged discussions usually do not change anything and even do not fix the sense of inadequacy in the child’s mind.

Many children experienced different sorts of traumatic events, such as parents’ divorce. But why some children did not have any emotional damage while others had emotional breakdown? It is well known now that the general way of how the person reacts to the life events (temperament) could be “set” very early in life, almost during infancy.

At that time many medical (for example, chronic otitis, oxygen deficiency) and environmental (mother’s problems, loud fights in the household) problems might negatively effect temperament. This anxiety of “people”, and later, life in general will be perceived by these persons as threatening.

Is it possible to change this “anxiety reaction”? The answer is: “Yes”, but up to certain point. One of the best techniques is to get these kids more close to animals. For some kids it is small animals, more aggressive children “mellow” by playing and taking care of large animals. Another technique and a very successful one is a therapeutic doll theater while for the third group of children the answer is medications.

We should not forget that the real patients are parents themselves. In their attempts to help the child some parents become too protective, others are trying to deny problems with their kids altogether. Neither approach is of a good use.

The family therapy is one of the most efficient approaches. General anxiety disorder and social anxiety are treated very successfully by therapeutic theater where children learn to play brave personalities. Playing with animals is known to help socialization.

Anxiety has an underlying physiology and in some cases at the different levels of anxiety medications should not be afraid of. To avoid side effects, parents should discuss with a doctor what, when and for what each medication is intended to be used and how long the course could last.

The earlier you start correction or treatment the better is prognosis of successful adaptation of the child to the real life.