7 Year Old with Anxiety

Updated on July 24, 2013
M. asks from Dallas, TX
11 answers

My 7 year old daughter has always been on the anxious side, but recently it seems to be getting more intense. One example is: this weekend we were at a pool birthday party, it thundered so everyone had to get out of the water, she was very anxious about this and wanted to go home. We talked it through and stayed for awhile, but she continued to watch the sky and ask when we were going to leave. That night it took her a hour and a half to fall asleep, she said she was still thinking about what happened at that pool. Yesterday we went to the pool again, it was cloudy but no storm clouds. She was very nervous and kept asking if it was going to thunder. She was able to relax some and have a good time, but then last night she was up three times in the night with nightmares.
Many of my family members have diagnosed anxiety disorders, so I want to give this the attention it needs but also not make it worse. Is this type of behavior normal for a 7 year old? Should I have her talk to a counselor? Should I talk to a counselor in order to get a better idea of how to support her? Should I just talk her through each "episode" and work with her on ways to cope?
My main concern is what is best for her.

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So What Happened?

Just wanted to clairify that when I say we talked it out, I did offer to take her home. She really wanted to stay with her friend's. I would never force her to stay somewhere against her will. She did have fun, I could just tell she was nervous and every so often she and I would have a side conversation about how she was feeling.

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answers from Dallas on

Yes! Yes! Yes!
Explore every avenue of help!
I was a nervous child too, eventually had my first full blown Panic Attack when I was 15.
I spent 15 years in traditional therapy with different therapists.
After age 30 I finally learned about Hypotherapy and EFT / Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and it was LIFESAVING for me.
Good luck and Bless you!

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answers from Chicago on

My BFF is a school psychologist that deals with exactly this kind of thing. It's not that uncommon at her age. She works with tons of grade school age kids that deal with anxiety for one reason or another...and how it ties into learning and social development.

Bottom line, yes, the counselor can help you with a list of things to help get to the root of the issue and how to help her work through it.

It may be something as simple as getting her to write "stories" that talk through her fear...or making a list of things that will happen throughout the day that will help her prepare for things that will happen out of the ordinary.

I would suggest keeping a journal of events that set her off for a week or two before you go in, so the counselor can get a good picture of what she typically reacts to, and how she typically "copes" with it.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

My daughter sometimes has fears and she and I use an imaginary "Thought Menu" where she picks thoughts either from the " I'm scared list" or from "it will be ok list.". The idea is to help your daughter learn that thoughts are choices and it takes practice choosing those that can reduce her fears. Are you a spiritual family? We are and on the "it will be ok list" my daughter chooses thoughts about God's angels being with her. My daughter went off a diving board for the first time recently and right before she went she talked about choosing thoughts from the menu that make her feel like she can do it. I would seek professional help if her fears continue inspite of different strategies. Blessings

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think it's quite normal for that age. When my daughter was around 7, she developed lots of weird, irrational fears that bothered her and she is NOT an anxious person.

She got bit by a spider on her neck, so she decided to sleep with her covers wrapped around her neck. It made her sweat and uncomfortable, but she wouldn't stop!

She became obsessed with having doors shut all the way at night because monsters might get out. If doors weren't shut all the way, she would actually start crying!

She wouldn't walk into any dark room. Even our own hallway in our house! We had to go turn the light on.'

She'd often complain of nightmares, but then sometimes she'd complain of nightmares about 15 minutes after putting her to bed, so we knew she was faking.

A lot of the fears and drama seemed to go away around age 9. Some of the things we just indulged her in, like making sure all doors were shut tight. Others we talked through. There was no one big solution that worked, it just seemed like eventually she outgrew it.

I wouldn't seek a counselor just yet. Lots of young children are scared of thunder and lighting. Even at 12, my daughter is still scared during thunderstorms, and so are her friends. They talk about it! So I wouldn't worry about it too much.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would just talk to a professional now, and see if there are things you can do with her at home yourself and "in the moment", then see if her talking with the counselor becomes necessary later down the road. You already know family members with anxiety disorders, so are they being treated, and do you know what has worked for them?

I would reassure her that what she is feeling is normal, to some extent - it's normal to feel some concern about storms and other events, but then ask her what we do to keep ourselves safe. Then she knows that she can be control of her fears instead of them controlling her. When it gets to a point that she can't enjoy herself and live a normal life because of the things that are scaring her, it's time to get some professional help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Check out the book Highly Sensitive Child before labeling her as anxious.

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answers from Dallas on

I have similar issues with my daughter, and they are common in our family too. IN ADDITION TO WEEKLY THERAPY, I got her the book, "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety" (What to Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner and Bonnie Matthews (Sep 2005). We read it and do the activities together (it is a workbook). And it helps!

I also have her on the supplement TravaCor Jr. (120 caps by NeuroScience, which I buy on Amazon) which has helped tremendously and was hand picked/recommended by our daughter's local pharmacist. It is high in L-theanine, which he felt was the key.
The TravaCorworks so well, that even her teachers and nanny can tell when she has not had it.

All of this though, is in addition to her therapy and a VERY GOOD organic, preservative/additive/colorant-free diet. It is just as important to eliminate the contributing factors to the brain chemical misfiring, as it is to provide the solutions. We read all food labels and she knows not eat anything with a number in the ingredients section, as well as other things to watch for. (And she is only 5!)

Good Luck!


answers from Dallas on

We have anxiety In Our family as well and we have finally started with a councilor for our 13 yo... Wish I had done it a long time ago. But things are definitely better even it the short time we have been going.



answers from Los Angeles on

My friend's daughter sounds a lot like yours. Small things will make her very anxious, prevent her from sleeping, etc. She just turned nine years old. She is seeing a therapist and her mom said it is helping a lot. I think having your daughter see a counselor is a great idea. Once you find a therapist you like, ask her if she thinks therapy would be beneficial for you as well. She might be able to just sit with you once for an hour or so and give you coping strategies, whereas she'll probably have weekly sessions with your daughter.

The sooner you can figure out why she's so anxious and help her work through it, the better.


answers from St. Louis on

Here is the thing, I have always pushed my kids to discover their limits but I would not have done what you did. Thunder, scared, I want to go home. I would have offered her comfort, lets go inside if that was an option. If she continued to want to go home she is no longer facing her fears it is adding to them.

Now not only will the same or similar situations scare her but she also feels you will force her stay, you have removed her support system. That isn't good for a child that is already afraid.

She needs to be confident that if she decides this is my hill you will accept it and take her home. I am sure after that she didn't have any fun so why did you stay? You say your main concern is for her but your actions didn't say that.



answers from New York on

I asked a similiar question recently and the issue faded. But I"m sure it'll pop up again. I guess key is if the time spans between what I percieve as almost irrational fears lengthens and it keeps doing so. So I'd see if this keeps happening or it'll be months before something like this happens again. And as an anxious person myself, what I've found helpful and I'm trying with my daughter is to take things to the worst possible outcome. Lightening can lead to death of course so not the best example... In this case it'd be more about how you make yourself safe and then maybe take it to if you're in a safe place and lightening strikes outside, what happens? Help her figure out that nothing happens - she's ok. I do that with things like a potential missed homework assignment. Ok - let's say you did miss the homework (versus she's wrong -there was no assigment). Will the teacher be mad? Maybe a little. Will the teacher get over it? Will she hate you? Will you fail 1st grade bc of it? Or will it all pass? I think it helps some. I know it helps me to think when I'm worrying - ok, what's really the worst thing that could come of this. Usually it's not anything life altering... So I think it's a good skill for anxious people.

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