Child Anxiety Resources and Help

Information, recommendations, and support for parents and loved ones of children with anxiety disorders and phobias.

Child Anxiety and The Effect of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)

Automatic negative thoughts often cause child anxiety, and the effects it can have can be devastating, leading to problems even as they reach adulthood.  It is known that many children who are affected by ANTS live in a negative world; while it may not seem that a child will pick up on negative feelings or situations in their surroundings, they often do and it affects their lives more than most of us realize.

How ANTS Affects Child Anxiety

Children who suffer from Automatic Negative Thoughts are often filled with fear, worry, and a drive to be perfect.  They often feel uncomfortable around other children and act awkwardly because they feel like they have so many things to worry about.  “Why can’t I just be happy and carefree like the other kids?” is a thought that may often enter their mind.

A child that suffers from ANTS may also tend to be selfish, expecting to get what they want.  They tend to think of themselves more than other people and are disappointed when things do not go their way.  Instead of thinking about how things really are, these children often have thoughts that are formed by how they are feeling at any given moment, which can lead to feelings that are up and down much like a yo-yo.

Physical symptoms also often manifest with child anxiety caused by ANTS.  When a child is anxious on their first day of school or fears they may be embarrassed in a given situation, they often develop a racing heart or feel lightheaded; they may also have thoughts that seem to race.  While they often don’t know what caused these physical symptoms to begin with, it then becomes these symptoms themselves that cause the child to become even more anxious, giving them something else to become frightened or worried about.

ANTS in Children Can Lead to Problems in Adulthood

Child anxiety almost always stems from the attitude and habitual thought patterns of the child.  If not addressed at an early age, Automatic Negative Thoughts and the anxiety caused by it will almost certainly affect the child throughout their lives, from the teen years on through adulthood.

As an adult who never addressed the issue of their anxiety in younger years, adults may experience frequent depression, anxiety, worry, and in general, a feeling that they just aren’t like everyone else.  This can affect relationships, employment, and social interaction – really every aspect of life.  A feeling of loneliness is also common in those adults affected by lasting child anxiety.

During the teen years, ANTS can be truly devastating as the ongoing anxiety interferes with learning, coping, and relationships.  While some anxiety is a normal part of childhood, disorders such as ANTS have a lasting and negative impact if not addressed earlier on.  The feelings of insecurity, constant worry, and fear can lead to panic attacks, causing children and teens to miss out on important social experiences.  It can also lead to alcohol or substance abuse, particularly in the teen years when the pressure from peers can be overwhelming.

Eating disorders are also a common result in teens; we have all seen stories in the media in recent years about the seriousness of anorexia and bulimia, and the potentially deadly results of these eating disorders.

Addressing the Problem of Child Anxiety

Unfortunately, the tendency today to stop or calm anxiety in children is through the use of prescription drugs, but this approach actually only masks the symptoms.  In order for children to lead happy, healthy lives free from fear and anxiety on through their teen years and into adulthood, it is essential that the underlying issues be addressed.

While many so-called professionals take a “logical” approach to child anxiety, it is essential that your child not only learns to cope with their fears and anxiety, but that they get rid of it.  Through learning the skills necessary to eliminate the fear and anxiety, a child can develop normal thought processes so that they no longer experience the racing and negative thoughts that cause them to become anxious.  When children learn that many of the worries and fears that have been so real to them for so long are really nothing to worry about, they can move forward to eliminating those thoughts that cause all of those mental and physical symptoms of child anxiety.

There is no “magic cure” or pill that will get rid of the worrying thoughts and fears that plague your child’s life, but children can learn how to overcome the things that steal their joy and peace of mind with a little help from parents.  It is important for a parent to understand what is happening to their child and to determine what may have caused their anxious thoughts and feelings.

Children often experience the physical symptoms of anxiety and never tie that racing heart or nervous feeling to a bothersome thought they had.  They don’t “connect” the thought with the physical result, so it is essential that they be taught how to deal with these thoughts; in doing so, the physical symptoms of child anxiety will also disappear.

Automatic Negative Thoughts is a condition that can be overcome so that a child who experiences worry, fear, and anxiousness can move toward a happy life filled with healthy, happy, and productive thoughts.  This gives them a strong basis and helps them move down a more positive path in life, resulting in a fulfilled and happier life as a teen and adult.