When I'm around children I get this intense feeling of paranoia and fear

I'm a male in my early 20s. Lately, my paranoia about being around kids is causing me too breathe heavy and sweat a lot. I then start to act weird because I'm trying to fight my paranoia. This leads to people starring at me because they don't know that I'm suffering from panic attacks and paranoia. They just notice me acting scared around kids and they think I'm a threat because of it.

I'm not a pervert or predator. I would never hurt a kid. I like kids and don't know why I'm so scared to be around them.

I don't understand why I feel like this. Am I a bad person? How do I make this stop?

Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Your very concern about your response to being around children shows that you aren't a bad person--it actually speaks to that you care. 

Panic attacks are really scary and not easy to deal with.  I wonder what you mean by paranoia--does this mean you are worried about your body's response when you are around kids?  Do you worry about their behavior?  Or does paranoia for you mean that you are worried about other people's judgments of you because of panicking?  If what you are saying is that you are trying to fight off the anxious feelings you have, it could intensify your symptoms because emotions want to be acknowledged.  One way to help manage through that is via deep breathing.  You can check out some videos on youtube that you vibe with and the nice thing about practicing this is it's very easy to do in public without people noticing.

I'm also curious about more of the details of what your experience is like.  Are there certain age ranges or behaviors that trigger your anxiety?  Figuring out the specifics of what sparks that response in your body will give you some basic insight into why you are feeling that way and what types of situations to prepare yourself for.  You can do this by paying attention to what happened right before you started feeling anxious.

If you are looking for more personalized ways of working through your anxiety, a counselor can help personalize treatment for you.  There are a lot of telehealth counselors available right now at lower rates due to the COVID issue as well.

Overall message here is there's so much you can do and your anxiety means nothing bad about you!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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