Anxiety Treatment for Preschoolers

What Do Preschool Children Worry About?

Children at this age are still learning about the world around them and many of their worries come from fear. One big scary step for kids of this age is potty training. Fear of the unfamiliar or unknown is what motivates most worry and anxiety at this developmental stage. Often, when a child this age feels scared or anxious, they look for comfort from a caregiver and are able to be soothed. It is important for parents to help teach young children healthy behavior and responses to fear and anxiety. Also, to teach them the words to express what they are feeling.

Some common worries for preschool children between the ages of 2-5 are:

  • Separating from caregivers
  • Strangers
  • Fear of sudden, loud noises: thunderstorms, vacuums, garbage disposal, fireworks, loud cars or trucks
  • Fear of the dark, shadows, closets, basements
  • Fear of people in costumes/masks
  • Fear of unknown animals or bugs
  • TV shows with scary themes
  • Fear of a monster or character coming to life
  • Getting lost or being alone
  • Fear of water: the bath, getting sucked down the drain, swimming pools
  • Worries about toilet training: it might hurt, falling into the toilet, scary sounds the toilet makes, something scary might come out of the toilet, they might make a mess on themselves or the floor, etc.

Learn about when you should consider seeking anxiety treatment for your preschooler.

What Developmental Changes Do 2-3 Year Old Children Experience?

A two to three year old child is very busy achieving developmental milestones. Babies are now toddlers. They are walking everywhere and talking more and more each day. They are continuing to explore their world, now more independently than ever, and will exhibit their own unique personality traits and voices. Toddlers of this age are also beginning to learn how their behaviors affect others around them. There are sure to be some tantrums, but it is mostly due to children this age not knowing how to voice uncomfortable emotions.

Motor Skills

  • Walking independently and learning to run
  • Climbing and jumping
  • Ability to carry a toy or pull a toy behind while walking
  • Scribbles on paper, might be able to draw repeated marks- like open circles and lines on the page
  • Might begin to favor one hand
  • Starting to eat independently
  • Assists with putting clothes on with help

Speech And Language Skills

  • Recognizes something familiar when it’s named
  • Knows the names of familiar friends and family
  • Can follow basic instructions
  • Repeats phrases that were overheard
  • Uses simple phrases that evolve into two -five word sentences, and even begin having short conversations around age three

Cognitive Skills

  • Can sort by shape and/or color or other general categories
  • Can count to two or three
  • Uses trial and error to solve simple problems
  • Beginning to understand things like time and opposites
  • Might remember characteristics of objects

Play And Emotional Skills

  • Separating from parents is becoming easier
  • Can copy actions and words of others
  • Shows affection for others and is beginning to understand basic emotions
  • Beginning to engage in pretend play
  • Can take turns when prompted
  • Able to play simple games in small groups
  • Might be ready to begin potty training

What Developmental Changes Do 3-5 Year Old Children Experience?

Preschool years are important and active times for children. They like to run, jump, climb, and play. Whether or not they are attending school or getting ready for kindergarten, they are old enough to start understanding more of the world around them. Their attention spans are getting longer. They are asking more and more questions each day, and learning information at lightening speed. Their vocabulary is growing, too. They begin speaking in longer phrases, can carry on conversations, and are better at understanding and following directions. A better grasp of emotions allows older toddlers to better express themselves. Improving their fine motor skills, learning to use words instead of actions, and talking more to peers are all common developments at this age.

Motor Skills

  • More precise fine motor skills (better able to hold crayons, copy shapes and some letters, use scissors, draw basic shapes and figures)
  • Hopping, standing on one foot
  • Climbs stairs without support
  • Kicking and throwing a ball
  • Running more easily
  • Catches bounced ball most of the time
  • Developing more coordination and responsiveness
  • Dressing and undressing independently

Speech And Language Skills

  • Speaks in longer sentences of five to six words
  • Masters some basic grammar skills
  • Speaks more clearly, easier to understand
  • Begins to tell stories
  • Sings songs, recites nursery rhymes, and names objects
  • Begins to answer questions with more accuracy

Cognitive Skills

  • Can name colors and numbers, can count, often to 10 or 20
  • Better understands time
  • Follows more complicated directions
  • Can listen to a story, make comments/ask questions about the story
  • Might have trouble telling fantasy from reality
  • Understands “same” and “different”
  • Understands differences in sizes
  • Negotiates solutions to conflicts

Play And Emotional Skills

  • Might be continuing potty training
  • Interested in trying new things
  • Plays house
  • More creative during play, engages in fantasy play
  • Often self-focused

Pediatric Anxiety Treatment At Austin Anxiety And OCD Specialists

If your preschooler is experiencing anxiety call Austin Anxiety and OCD Specialists at (512) 246-7225 or email us at hel[email protected] to schedule an appointment with one of our early childhood anxiety therapists.

If you have any additional questions please contact us at 512-246-7225. If you are ready to get started, please visit our client portal.