All children worry and are frightened from time to time. However, between 3 and 6 percent of children worry almost all of the time. They have a condition called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Many professionals consider GAD the common cold of anxiety and it’s prevalence among adults is even higher (lifetime prevalence up to 25%). Kids with GAD worry about things that might happen, or things that probably won’t happen, or things that absolutely won’t happen. Basically, they worry about everything.
GAD is serious in children because it interferes with their ability to enjoy life, make friends, and concentrate in school. Kids with GAD often suffer headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, or muscle tension. They may have difficulty sleeping, be irritable, or feel restless and agitated.
Like other emotional problems, GAD is caused by some combination of genetics, biology, learning, and/or experience. Lots of kids from very normal, happy families have GAD. So, if your child has GAD, don’t blame yourself; just make sure to get help.
The earthquake and tragedy in Haiti can have a very powerful effect on your child, with or without an anxiety disorder. All children are afraid of losing a parent, being lost and unable to get out, or getting hurt. The news coverage of this disaster lets kids know that this can happen. So, here are some tips in terms of handling this incident with your child.
Focus on the importance of relationships and be grateful.
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Last reviewed: 18 Jan 2010