Big Feels: What's the Difference between Worry, Fear and Anxiety?

Big Feels: What’s the Difference between Worry, Fear and Anxiety?

16 March 2022 • Words by Nicole Donne 3 mins

How do we know when little ones are struggling, or when their feelings are normal? As adults, we know that it can be challenging to understand the ‘big feels’ as a kid. Each kid is individually unique, and it very much depends on how those feelings affect them. Have their habits changed? Are they displaying any concerning behaviors – or are they perfectly content? Is their reaction reasonable considering the situation? What impact is this making on them?

These are the questions to help guide us to the difference between worry, fear and anxiety.

The Difference between Worry, Fear and Anxiety

Worry is when we feel troubled or concerned about unpleasant things that might happen. Everyone worries about things sometimes – it’s a natural reaction to the very busy world around us.  Kids can worry about anything they don’t understand or have no control over.

Fear is the natural reaction to a perceived danger. We all have a level of skill to regulate and evaluate whether there is a real danger or identify if only perception. Kids who are survivors of trauma tend to have anxiety because they can lack this ability. 

Worry or fear becomes anxiety when it is habitual, long-lasting, disproportionate, detrimental and/or out of control.  This affects many areas including sleep quality, night wakings, nightmares, confidence, social interactions and ability to regulate emotions when stressed. 

Anxiety is all about these feelings – but an extreme version that affects day-to-day life. 

Phobias are an example of specific anxiety, a disproportionate fear. For some, it is spiders, for others, monsters under the bed. 

Separation anxiety is the unreasonable discomfort of being left alone. can also refer to an unhealthy attachment to a specific person or object. 

Social anxiety is when a kid suffers an extreme aversion to participating in social activities in line with their peers – this may mean they fear doing or saying something they think will be humiliating. This may not be obvious as often kids aren’t aware of why they are feeling that way. They may complain of illness – or a ‘tummyache’.   

Each of us will experience some form of anxiety in our lifetimes – particularly around stressful life events. If you are concerned about your child’s anxiety, please seek professional help to support the journey.

The important thing to recognize is that the fear or worry is very real to the person experiencing it. For kids who have an anxiety condition, their instincts are constantly challenged. This can result in a tendency to feel overwhelmed with worry or fear in various situations that other kids would not. 

Although anxiety tends to be around what may or may not happen in the future, kids can also experience rumination cycles – worrying about the past.  Too much of these harmful thinking patterns can be debilitating.

Moshi Tracks that can help with anxious moments:

Anxiety Be Gone with Yana

Designed to ease anxiety fast, this magical Moshi Moment encourages listeners to paint beautiful pictures in the mind with Yana, a Bobbly Wobblov. 

The Art of Being Apart with Linton

Created to ease separation anxiety, this calming Moshi Moment explains how a Moshling called Linton deals with being apart from loved ones. 

No More Nerves with Ivy

Take a Moshi Moment, gather your thoughts and calm any jitters you might have with Ivy, a Shivery Quivery Moshling who gets tingles in her tummy. A beautifully calming exercise for any situation. 

Melena’s Wumpleton Tennis Tale

Melena is a tennis-playing Moshling who dreams of winning Wumpleton. She just needs to overcome her worries and nerves by getting a good night’s sleep and focusing on her ‘happy place’ whenever she feels anxious.

Nicole Donne