How much anxiety is too much?
October 7, 2013 7:59 AM Subscribe
My 4 year old son has recently upped his anxiety related behaviors, and I'm not sure whether this is a common occurrence for this age, or whether we need to start changing things to help him out.
posted by katers890 to human relations (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
[Sorry this turned out longer than intended] My son has always been fairly introverted. He likes playing with kids and adults he knows, but can be quite shy around new ones. He has several friends at school, and they always run up to greet him when he arrives, but he never runs up to other kids to greet them regardless of how well he knows/likes them. This became a bit of a problem when he switched to a new school because he insisted for a couple weeks that none of the kids would play with him. Turns out, they would play with him if he asked, but he would never initiate. But he got some friends and that solved that. He's always been difficult with new classes (like swimming class at the Y, or tee ball, etc), until he gets to know the teachers/coaches, and will hang back and cry at joining (until he gets going, and then he's happy as a clam). All of this we thought we were handling ok, but recently it seems like it's been getting worse.
One major difference I noticed was that he know seems to have a big case of the "What if?"s, by which I mean, 75% of the time or more, anything we ask him to do (even if it is something simple like go find your shoes), has prompted a series of "What if..." questions (what if I can't find them? What if someone has stolen them? What if I fall down and [something random happens]?). The questions often go on until I tell him to stop asking and go do whatever he is supposed to be doing (or by the 3rd or 4th time I do that). Sometimes it seems like he's using it to stall because he just doesn't want to do it, but I'm starting to feel like that isn't the case a majority of the time. Moreover, sometimes he will go to ridiculous extremes to not do something (like insist on spending a long time in time out, or losing all of the activities for a day) to not do something he thinks he won't be able to do, even if it is something he does all the time. And his issues with sports classes, etc seems to have ramped up a bit too, such that he often refuses to go to the karate class that he's been going to for a while now and knows the teacher well. He also has started stating that some things he's done a lot (like jumping off some small rock walls around the neighborhood) are now too scary to do. And finally, he seems more defeatist and likely to throw a fit or give up if he has difficulty with something or if we correct him on doing something (even things he does all the time).
What my issue is is that a lot of these sorts of behaviors are fairly routine for his age group, I know, but I can't get a sense of whether he is more anxious that is normally expected and whether the increase in concerns over the future (ie. the What ifs) are normal/expected for this age, or if it bares further watching. He still seems to be a fairly happy kid, but I don't know.
So for the tldr: My kid's anxiety seems to be increasing, is this common at 4 years old? And if so/not, what can I do to help him out?