Tell me about anxiety in 2 year-olds — The Bump
Special Needs

Tell me about anxiety in 2 year-olds

Hello all.  We follow this board since M was born 8 weeks early and has some eye issues, and A.J. has larynogmalacia and some other small things.

M, 24 months, recently completed her developmental assessment that she gets because she was a preemie. There was a lot of screaming...she was just really mad that they hid the bracelets, etc. She scored above her age on all the tests, which surprised me since she refused to  do most of it. Apparently screaming at the developmental assessment qualifies us for Early On because they said she would not be ready for school if she didn't respond better to testing.   She does fine in group settings like music class, but does have tantrums when it is time to leave and doesn't always act very well on the first day of new activities, when she doesn't know what to expect.  They mentioned anxiety, and I wondering what your experience has been with children who have anxiety and if we should be doing anything besides working with E.O. 

Re: Tell me about anxiety in 2 year-olds

  • My son has a severe anxiety disorder but we didn't know about it until he was around 5 years old. He always had a hard time, would throw himself on the ground if we tried to take him somewhere with a lot of people, and would cover his head.  Even when it was somewhere he really wanted to go, once he saw everyone he'd just shut down.  We just thought he was extremely shy, maybe a little babied, youngest child and he would outgrow it.  Therefore we didn't do anything at such a young age.  When he did start school it was extremely difficult.  He spent the entire first year of school being pried off of me and then laying in a corner covering his face.  He refused to participate in activities or socialize with other kids.  His second year of preschool was when anxiety was mentioned.  The teachers started to recognize his "triggers" and avoiding them, and while he still had a very difficult year there was improvement.  Kindergarten was the same, we knew his triggers and tried to avoid them.  He made friends for the first time however, and we were noticing improvement.  First grade was more of the "avoiding triggers" but it was becoming more difficult because there are certain things that he just has to do.  The kids were also getting older and recognizing something was different about him.  Some were very patient and tried to help him, others would make not so nice comments.  His anxiety got worse in first grade and he started seeing a therapist and by the end of the year we ended up starting medication. The medication as helped him immensely although its been up and down and a lot of dose changing, both higher and lower to keep him in a good place. 

    Honestly if the only reason they are thinking anxiety is because she refused to take a test I wouldn't be that concerned.  In kindergarten my oldest son refused to take a test, he clearly knew the answers and he has no anxiety or shyness whatsoever.  The person giving the test was someone he didn't know and he just refused to talk to her.  His regular teacher then gave the test to him and he did fine.  At that age who knows why they do or don't do certain things! 


  • Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  I do think this assessor is really quick to assume that M is terrible just because M gets mad when the assessor hides things or whatever.  That said, I cried a lot in K and 1st because I was very worried about getting things right, and I can see that M is kind of reluctant to do things when she thinks she cannot.  For instance, she got a Bubble Guppies guitar for Christmas, but wouldn't hold it until she could see how it worked.  She wanted me to open some new scissors, but then had a fit when I tried to show her how to use them.  I turned out fine, and I do think that I did best with teachers who tried to work with my quirks when I was very young.  I took tumbling when I was 3 from a very good teacher and I was never upset because she knew how to handle a sensitive child.  I want to give her more time to develop some emotional skills before I assume she's not going to be able to handle K, but if there are coping skills or parenting skills I can give her, I want to.  
  • Hmm.  Thanks all.  M doesn't seem anxious like you guys describe.  She loves doing things, being the center of attention, will try anything unless she thinks you're trying to make her do it.  Perhaps it is just that we are seeing the beginning of some anxiety.  Maybe she is too young to anticipate being afraid, and only gets worried when the task is right in front of her.  I don't know.  

    She does react badly in situations where many kids don't.  Like in tennis class, she just doesn't like to be told to roll the ball, etc.  I told her this week that instead of crying, she could just sit down if she didn't want to do the activity.  So when the person stopped doing something she wanted, she sat on the bench and said, "home."  At least explaining the plan in advance helped to some degree and we didn't ruin it for anyone else.  Social stories will help her, I think.  

    We will just have to try to take what we can from the assessment.  Since the assessor was already convinced from our 12 month assessment that M was fine cognitively but behaviorally a problem, she was really kind of pushing her, and M has time to develop a more appropriate response to rigid expectations.  I do just want to make things easier for M, and I know I was a pretty worked up child, so if there are other things we can do, I want to try them.  Right now, we're just doing lots of activities to give her practice with situations that aren't of her design.
  • DS has a GAD dx along with ASD & ADHD. He has had issues with anxiety since 18 months - officially got diagnosed at 4.5

    I agree with auntie - generally related to something else. In DS's case our best guess is sensory integration issue.

    Social stories do help for anxiety related to not knowing what to expect.

    HTHs!
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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