Anything that happens to a child that creates stress for them or is difficult to cope with can cause anxiety. These situations may be obvious such as loss, serious illness, death of a loved one, divorce or violence and abuse can lead some children to become anxious. What is important to recognize is that the situation doesn’t necessarily have to have happened to them. Witnessing something traumatic happening to another person can have serious effects on a child and how they view the world, relationships and more.
However, it could also be smaller more ‘seemingly’ insignificant events or situations that trigger a child’s anxiety. This can have a lot to do with the degree of sensitivity of the particular child and how they respond to certain events and situations. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when understanding a child’s needs and it is vital as a parent that you are able to identify the different ‘needs’ each child has and understand their different requirements and how they see their world.
As a highly sensitive child growing up in the UK many years ago, I was labelled ‘shy’. In fact, I wasn’t shy I was extremely sensitive and consequently perceived things differently than my siblings. I would become anxious about going on visits to relatives, what I would they give me to eat? Would like it? And would I ‘get into trouble’ if I didn’t like it? I would worry about having the right shoes for school, doing my homework in just right way so I wouldn’t be singled out. I was different from others and it didn’t feel good. There were no ‘happy go lucky’ times for me unless I was squirreled away safe in my imagination and then ‘that’ would be commented on and the worry cycle of self judgement would start again.
As you can imagine I lived in a constant state of anxiety and fear. These negative emotions became my default programming. However, most of it wasn’t based on anything ‘real’ it was just the way I experienced the world from my level of sensitivity and the labels I understood myself to be.