Curiosity or Anxiety

When do questions indicate an Anxiety disorder?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Kids are curious. Very curious. And we like that, we want that, we encourage that. Curiosity leads to interest, to learning, to an engaged child. But what if it leads to something else?

That curiosity sometimes masks anxiety. It took me a while to notice, to see that there was something else going on in my little girl’s head — to see that her questions were morphing into something slightly different. When her “how does or what is” shifted into more “what if’s”. What if this happens, what if that happens.
What if’s can hide — or reveal — fears. My daughter needed to know what’s happening, when. Change of plans agitated her; then she’d wonder what if it doesn’t go as planned? What if something goes wrong?
Many anxious kids have good imaginations and yes, she has a huge imagination! I just love all the creativity bursting out of her. I want to bottle it up sometimes so I can let it out and breathe some joy into the world. But when her imagination starts filling in questions with worst-case scenarios, I think uh-oh. Now, what do I do?
Well, it turns out what we don’t want to do is tell her not to worry. Honestly, that helps practically nobody, ever. In fact when I tried that — because of course, it’s the first thing I did — she just took the imagined outcome further and further. Finally, I realized that instead of my just saying “it’s ok” and “don’t worry about it”, I should take another tack.
So I try walking her through whatever the fear is to get her to reassure herself. Sometimes if it’s easy, I just talk her through the fear to show her she is ok and does have the strength to handle it. Often she’s not feeling confident or is out of her comfort zone. I say, “Looks like you’re pretty worried about this, what can we do to help calm you down? “ Sometimes she can bring herself back with that. Sometimes we have to dance or stomp it out. And other times it comes down to breathing. Just breathing with her. In and out, ever so slowly.
So notice the questions your child is asking; ask some of your own. There are many, many answers.
But expecting them to just get over it, isn’t one of them.
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


The Deepest Meaning of “Cure”

by Jane G. Goldberg, Ph.D.
Andrii Yalanskyi/Getty Images

If You’re Going To Do Something, See How Far You Can Go

by Benjamin P. Hardy
Fear Discourages Learning

Why Fear is an Incompetent Teacher

by Terri Kozlowski

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.