Treating Childhood Anxiety, A Parent's Guide
Anxiety is a common problem in both children and adults, and it may be hard to manage for some people. While there are different forms of anxiety, childhood anxiety is not unusual, and it can be worrying for parents. It is imperative to recognize anxiety symptoms early on, treat them, and help your child grow into a healthy and happy adult. Parental support, education, and anxiety treatment can help combat the problem. Here is a comprehensive guide for parents who want to assist their children with anxiety management.
1. Learn about Anxiety:
As a parent, gaining knowledge about anxiety is crucial in helping your child overcome it. Every child will feel anxiety at times. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it significantly impacts your child's life or functioning (like not being able to go to school or attend birthday parties). Anxiety is a mental health disorder that children often experience, it takes the form of excessive unease, fear, or worry that interrupts daily-life activities. It’s worrying that anxiety disorders develop differently in children, your child may complain of a range of anxious symptoms. Troubling family situations, school stress, physical health conditions, traumatic events, fear, and sometimes genetic predisposition can all cause anxiety.
2. Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out for:
Most parents don’t immediately realize that their child is anxious. Identifying the signs is necessary for early intervention in managing anxiety in children. Some of the symptoms include excessive fear and worry, physical distress (headaches, stomach pains), angry outbursts, avoiding school, and social situations, and nervous habits that could include nail-biting, hair pulling, and even panic attacks.
3. How to Treat Anxiety:
It is important to recognize anxiety in children early and learn effective ways to support them. Begin by reassuring your child that they are safe, loved, and that you will help them overcome it. Anxiety management techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation, and exposure therapy may be recommended. It is VERY important you don't over accommodate your child's anxiety (such as allowing them to sleep next to you every night and never attend any event they feel is "scary"). This can actually increase the severity of the anxiety over time because the fear parts of their brain never learn that they CAN handle their fear. If you want to learn more about how to support your anxious child, you can sigh up for our support group for parents (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions) HERE.
4. Parental Role in Treating Anxiety:
As a parent, your involvement and support are critical in helping your child overcome anxiety. Making them feel comfortable in opening up about their fears and worries, actively listening, and engaging in anxiety treatment alongside them are essential steps to take as your child works towards healthy psychological well-being.
5. Seek Professional Help:
Managing childhood anxiety should begin at home with the family, but if symptoms persist or your child’s anxiety disorder is severe, it’s necessary to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help by evaluating, suggesting the best course of anxiety management, and improving your child's overall mental well-being.
Treating childhood anxiety can be challenging, but parents' support and proper anxiety management techniques can help their children cope with it. As a parent, always keep an eye on the signs and symptoms of childhood anxiety, learn about anxiety, provide reassurance, and seek help when necessary. Ensure your child is comfortable and feels safe to open up about their anxiety, support them through the anxiety management process, and always remember that helping your child now will help them develop into a happy and healthy adult.
Want to get more support as a parent or for your child? Sign up for our parenting group, Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions HERE or contact us to be set up with one of our child therapists. We support all families in the State of Arizona virtually and provide in person services in Scottsdale, AZ.