Uncomfortable as it is, anxiety is a normal human emotion that serves important functions, including protecting people and motivating them to solve problems. Children are vulnerable to feeling anxious as they don’t know much about the world and rely on adults for security.
Learning to manage anxiety productively, including developing the ability to differentiate between reasonable and unreasonable fears and ways to calm down, is a valuable and important life skill.
Many adults assume that children with high levels of anxiety will outgrow the problem, but it's somewhat the opposite, says Wendy Silverman, PhD, director of the Yale Medicine Child Study Center's Anxiety & Mood Disorders Program. Substantial research links untreated childhood anxiety with mental illness in adulthood, including not only ongoing anxiety but also depression and substance abuse. She adds that anxiety is the most common mental health problem in children and adults and the median age of onset is 11.