Can an Active Imagination Lead To Anxiety in Children?


Does your kid make up a lot of negative stories? Is there always a villain in his stories who tries to traumatize him? While the good news is that your child has a great imagination (which is a gift), the bad news is that this imagination could be driving him towards becoming more and more anxious. Fear is quite natural and healthy but when the imagination of your child starts fueling anxiety, you should sit up and take notice. That happens because creativity and anxiety are related, says child psychologist Dr. Robin Alter in her new book Anxiety and the Gift of Imagination.

It is well known that anxiety in kids is on the rise and can significantly damage a child’s development. As long as anxiety lasts briefly and does not impact a child’s normal functioning, there is not a reason to worry. It is natural for kids as well as adults to develop anxieties at different phases in their life. In kids, it normally manifests in situations like going to school, moving to a new home or neighborhood, imagining a monster in the closet after watching a scary movie, and so on. These fears make children alert and help them to develop a protective mechanism against potentially dangerous situations. However, healthy becomes unhealthy when due to these fears, a child starts functioning abnormally. Feeling of nausea, stomachaches, inability to perform well in academics or sports, and not getting along with others are the signs you should look out for.

Following are some more symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Fear of sleeping alone, inability to sleep, or regular nightmares
  • Persistent physical discomfort such as body aches or irritability and frequent loss of temper
  • Excuses to stay away from regular activities like bathing, playing, and eating or social events
  • Feeling of insecurity, burglary, or natural disasters
  • Constant need for attention or excessive self-analysis

There is no reason why anxiety should interfere with an otherwise healthy imagination. As parents or teachers, it should be our constant endeavor to ensure that a child does not fall prey to the ill-effects of an anxiety disorder.

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