Published On: Sun, Oct 22nd, 2023

Effective Ways for Parents to Identify and Support Children with Anxiety

Effective Ways for Parents to Identify and Support Children with Anxiety
Effective Ways for Parents to Identify and Support Children with Anxiety

Anxiety in Children: Common Diagnoses

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Children with this disorder constantly worry about various things, which can lead to physical symptoms like stomachaches or a racing heart. It affects their school and daily activities.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Children with this disorder have an intense response to separation from their caregivers, lasting longer than typical. They may refuse separation or fear for their caregiver’s safety.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Kids with this disorder are very afraid of social situations and may worry about being judged. This can result in school avoidance and social avoidance.
  • Panic Disorder: Children with panic disorder have regular panic attacks and constant worry about having another one. These attacks involve symptoms like a racing heart, trouble breathing, dizziness, and sweating.
  • Specific Phobias: Specific phobias involve intense fears of particular situations or objects, causing extreme distress and avoidance behaviors. Common examples include the fear of doctors, dogs, thunderstorms, or vomiting.
  • Selective Mutism: This occurs when children have trouble speaking in new or uncomfortable situations but can communicate well in familiar settings. It’s often linked to anxiety.

Is Parenting Responsible for Child Anxiety?

A meta-analysis revealed that only 4% of childhood anxiety can be attributed to parenting. Most cases of childhood anxiety are not caused or worsened by parenting.

However, you can still play a crucial role in helping your child cope with anxiety and reduce their symptoms.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child?

Research indicates that parents can significantly help their children manage anxiety. In fact, a recent study found that training parents in effective anxiety management techniques is as effective as direct therapy for children.

Here’s what you can do to help your anxious child:

  1. Explain Anxiety: Teach your child that anxiety is a natural response meant to protect them, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling anxious. Explain that sometimes their brain may have “false alarms.”
  2. Avoid Accommodating Behaviors: Be cautious not to provide excessive reassurance or help your child avoid anxiety-provoking situations. These behaviors can make anxiety worse.
  3. Validate and Empathize: Acknowledge that your child’s anxiety is real and difficult for them, even if it seems irrational to you.
  4. Encourage Facing Fears: Help your child gradually confront their fears, taking small steps to build confidence.
  5. Praise Brave Behavior: Celebrate when your child successfully faces their fears, acknowledging their anxiety and effort.
  6. Tolerate Uncertainty: Expose your child to uncertainty, helping them learn to handle it gradually.
  7. Promote Independence: Allow your child to make choices, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.

When and How to Seek Professional Help

While parents can assist, professional help is essential when childhood anxiety becomes a concern.

Seek professional help if:

  • Your child’s anxiety interferes with sleep, eating, school, or their enjoyment of activities.
  • Your strategies to manage their anxiety are ineffective or worsen it.
  • Your child has experienced a traumatic event leading to anxiety.
  • Your child’s anxiety is progressively worsening.

If you believe your child needs professional help, consult your pediatrician or school counselor for a referral to a psychologist or mental health professional. Treatment options, including therapy and medication, are highly effective in addressing childhood anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a recommended therapy, and research shows that in-session exposure during therapy can be beneficial. Ask providers about their training and approach to ensure it aligns with research-based practices.

Please follow and like us:

🤞 Don’t miss latest news!

Most Popular News