Essential Tremor in Children

July 11, 2018

Essential tremor can be a genetic disease, and 50 percent of parents or grandparents with essential tremor pass it onto their children. Children are most likely to get essential tremor when it is genetic, and it can affect them from a very young age, impairing their development and social skills. Most children learn to tie shoes and color pictures with no problem, but this may be an issue for children with essential tremor. These tasks that are normal for a child may be a test of stamina and willpower. 

Children with essential tremor may be self conscious and withdraw from social groups because of embarrassment and fear of judgement caused by their condition. They may have a harder time relating to their peers, and finding people to emotionally connect with, because they feel so different from others. Parents have also reported suspecting their child was on drugs or nervous about something because of their tremors. It is important as a parent of a child with essential tremor to be understanding, and empathetic towards them. Putting blame on them for things will only make symptoms worse and cause further withdraw. 

There are plenty of resources as a parent with a child that has essential tremor to learn about the condition and learn how to best help your child. At home, make sure that your child has been properly diagnosed, and that you understand the condition as much as possible. Set goals for improvement with your child, and don’t make hurtful remarks about progress or about shaking. Make sure to provide information to everyone who is in your child’s life so they can also understand what essential tremor is, and how it affects your child. There are lots of resources such as velcro, special keyboards, and other things that can be used to provide your child with tools for success, and to help facilitate everyday function, which will in turn provide your child with more confidence. 

At school, it may be hard for children with essential tremor to interact. Make sure that the school knows about your child’s condition so that they can be treated fairly and with respect by faculty and other children. Make sure to work with your child and understand their limitations, so you can work with teachers to make sure that your child does not fall behind or become overwhelmed with things they cannot do as quickly or as efficiently. This may mean asking for deadline extensions, different homework, alternative forms of tests, etc. It is important that you understand your child at home so you can then understand their needs for school. 

In general, essential tremor doesn’t affect a child's ability to learn, but can cause embarrassment and frustration which may lead to behavioral issues and lacking self-confidence. Children with essential tremor may need some extra help, but it is important to remember they can accomplish anything a normal child can. With support and understanding, essential tremor is not debilitating, and can be managed to allow for normal daily function and school and home life.