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Anxiety in Preschoolers

by on 25/05/2018 4813

Here we are in the modern world with access to all the advantages that it offers, yet evidence reveals a decline in overall health. The deteriorating shift in wellbeing, especially mental health, is distressing and what is more worrying is that it affects the youngest generation of our nation.


So, what is this debilitating health crisis crippling our future?     




Anxiety in preschoolers to be specific. Well, it is normal for children to feel anxious at some point. It is only when it persists and starts to interfere with their development and life, then it is time to seek support. When it comes to mental health, early diagnosis and treatment is vital. We would not want to wait until it blows out of proportion.   


First Signs of Anxiety

Anxiety can be easy to spot but sometimes, symptoms can be confused for other behavioural issues altogether. It is easy to overlook such disorders as children with anxiety issues are often obedient and quiet. As a parent or teacher, if you start noticing the following signs happening often, easily and intensely, do take note.


  • Inattention, being fidgety and restless children squirming in their seats. This can be caused by anxiety and not ADHD.
  • Refusing to go to school. Children may feel anxious be apart from their parents.
  • Children showing disruptive, aggressive behavior such as throwing things and kicking the table.
  • Cries often for no apparent reason.
  • Facing problems in certain subjects may not be a learning disorder.
  • Have trouble answering questions in class or in contrary, asking many repetitive questions to feel reassured.
  • Not completing their homework as worried children will start to dread certain assignments or subjects.
  • Refusal to participate in group work or socialize with their peers.
  • Frequent trips to the sick bay for unexplained headaches and stomachaches.
  • Encounter difficulties sleeping or sleeping alone.


With such signs, children can struggle with different types of anxiety disorders. They include generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and selective mutism.


Tips for Managing Anxiety in Young Children

While there is no standardized solution for anxiety, here are some suggestions to help ease the condition and make it more manageable.


  • Help through example

As with a lot of other traits and behaviours, anxiety can rub off on children. Do put up a calm and confident impression whenever you are around them.  


  • Help them cope, not eliminate

Try not to suppress their fears. Do not sugar-coat things. Be upfront and acknowledge the scary stuff. Give them suggestions on how to cope when faced with the scary situation. Offer gentle encouragement, asking them to “have a go”. Stroke their ego with praise after any accomplishments.   


  • Make time to rehearse

Prepare children by bringing their fear to life. For example, practice show and tell at home before class or practice separation through pretend play.


  • Do not give lead to fearful behaviours

Encourage children to discuss their feelings but avoid asking questions that reinforce their anxiety. It is not the best idea to ask questions such as “Do you feel scared about performing on stage tomorrow?”.


  • Be patient

Overcoming such issues takes time. Lower your expectations and find time to comfort the child. That sense of security will boost the confidence within to beat anxiety. During anxious meltdowns, try ways you would use to calm a baby like back rubbing and singing.


Seek Professional Help

If all else fails, consult a mental health specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. It goes without saying that early assessment and professional support significantly improves end results.   


Often, medication is the first choice of treatment when it comes to anxiety. However, for parents who prefer a more natural approach, there is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It involves exposing the child to the things that trigger their anxiety in a controlled environment and a therapist then works to change the behavior to overcome anxiety. In fact, CBT offers greater value for children with such issues as it gives them the tools to manage anxiety, which can also come in handy in the future if needed. For more severe cases, a treatment of medication paired with a psychological intervention is the most effective combination.



For parents seeking professional diagnosis and help, you may approach the following outlets:


Serene Psychological Services

2D Level 2, Wisma Lifecare, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South 59200 Kuala Lumpur

018-777 2242


International Psychology Centre

11-1, Wisma Laxton, Jalan Desa, Taman Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur

03-2727 7434


Brain Mind Specialist Clinic

C-11-03, 3 Two Square, Jalan 19/1, 46300 Petaling Jaya

03-7960 9021


360 Wellness Hub

LifeCare Diagnostic Medical Centre 2-2B, 2nd Floor, Wisma LifeCare, 5, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

+60 3-2779 2700