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7 year old boy fearful of going out


I am a bit worried about my 7 year old son. He seems to suffer from anxiety that becomes especially difficult for him when facing new situations or leaving home. Every day before school he says he feels sick. He understands now that these are butterflies in his stomach and that they will go when he gets to school. But other situations cause him intense distress which he faces, but, as a parent, it is hard to see him go through. I'm wondering on the one hand if he'll grow out of it or on the other if we should try to help him in some way. For example today he went to the cinema with his father and sister. Going there he became extremely nervous, saying again he was sick. When he went in he said he was shaking which is a sign the nerves are going. I do feel for him. And these nerves and anxiety thing connects too to food. He eats very little on the whole. On days when he has swimming at school his lunch comes back uneaten. And when we are out, he does not eat. He only eats at home. We are worried it is going to curtail him. And there is no doubt that doing things challenges much more than other kids. It's like he is a little agrophobic.

He does fine at school. He's a bright student. Has plenty of friends. Can be a little intense but is sensitive and clued up to situations. He is small for his age.

My husband and I are really worried - what should we do - just continue to support and reassure him and hope he'll get through it? Or should we try to be more proactive...?

Thanks for any advice

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Avatar universal
I suspect your son is suffering from anxiety -perhaps generalized anxiety or social anxiety.  If anxiety is the issue, then I assure you that your son will not outgrow it nor will it go away. You were asking whether you should seek help - the time to intervene is when your son's anxiety is interfering in his life (and frankly, that is occurring now).  Our child suffers from severe anxiety so we have been on this path for some time.  Today, she is doing very well with proper and aggressive treatment.

Anxiety is a mental health condition which "has its origins in brain chemistry, not in real life experiences. That is why it persists in spite of the reality that your son has not experienced traumatic events in his life" - the parts in quotations were copied from Dr. Kennedy in the "ask a doctor" forum - child behavior section - titled 'severe anxiety in 5 year old child" posted on Dec 10, 2008 (if you would like to read Dr. Kennedy's reply).

First, I might suggest that you google words/phrases as "childhood anxiety" or "anxiety at school" or "generalized anxiety" or similar words/phrases to learn more about this condition.  Then, since it appears that your son's anxiety is interfering with his life, it seems prudent to speak to your family physician for counsel re this issue.  If he/she is unable to help you, then ask for a referral to a medical specialist with experience in anxiety issues.  By the way, anxiety is very common in children and also highly treatable.  I hope this helps ....
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Avatar universal
Thank you JDTM - your reply is helpful and makes a lot of sense - I will look at the sources you suggest and take the appropriate steps - it's reassuring in a way to know this is common though saddening to read they don't grow out of it.

I hope your daughter continues to do really well.

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