How to Help Kids With Anxiety

How to Help Kids With Anxiety

How To Help Kids With Anxiety – Anxiety in childhood has become one of the most prevalent mental health issues in our society, affecting millions of children. One in every five children will experience some level of clinical anxiety by the time they reach adolescence, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It is a common nighttime ritual in many families around the world for fathers to bravely patrol the perimeter of bedrooms with a flashlight in hand to reassure a terrified child that there are no multi-legged, hairy creatures hiding under their bed. 

However, if spider anxiety prevents you from sleeping away from home or traveling, this is a problem for you. It’s not the spider that keeps you from trying new things; it’s you and your anxiety, that keeps you from trying new things.

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However, it is critical to understand the difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Spiders, bugs, birds, monsters, and strangers are all considered to be common childhood fears that can cause a child to experience brief periods of anxiety. That is a perfectly normal response.

Although normal anxiety can be triggered by a variety of factors (such as a spider, a dog, going to school, or meeting new people), it becomes toxic when it begins to dominate the child’s thoughts in an overwhelming manner and negatively impacts the child’s ability to engage in normal activities and behaviors.

How to Help Kids with Anxiety?

You want to help your kid who is experiencing anxiety is completely understandable. However, by attempting to shield your kid from the things that cause them distress, you may unintentionally exacerbate their anxiety. 

The most effective method of assisting children in overcoming anxiety is to teach them how to deal with anxiety as it arises. They will become less anxious as they gain more experience.

Whenever a child becomes upset while in an uncomfortable situation and their parents remove them from that circumstance, they learn to accept that becoming upset is a healthy way to cope.

As an alternative, it is beneficial for parents to assure their children that they will be fine, even if they are scared. You cannot guarantee your child that nothing wrong will happen to them. However, you can express confidence that they will be able to overcome their fears and become less fearful over time.

You can demonstrate empathy for your child without agreeing with their fears. For example, you might say: “I understand that you’re nervous about getting this shot. It’s perfectly acceptable to be scared. This is something you can get through, and I’m going to help you.” The use of leading questions (such as “Are you worried about the test tomorrow?”) is generally discouraged.

How to Help Your Kid with Anxiety

Ask open-ended questions instead, such as “How do you feel about the test tomorrow?” You can use your tone of voice and body language to demonstrate to your child that you are calm, which will assist them in remaining calm as well.

Parents can also assist by diverting their children’s attention away from something that may be upsetting, such as a doctor’s appointment. It can be beneficial to talk with your child about what might happen if their worst fears come true at times. What do you think they’d do? Who would they turn to for help? Having a plan can help to alleviate anxiety.

Normal Anxiety or Anxiety Disorder?

Every person, whether a child or an adult, will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety is a normal emotion that serves a dual purpose in the human body. It can both prevent us from doing something dangerous and motivate us to do something good. 

For example, anxiety may motivate a child to practice the piano in preparation for a recital or provide the “encouragement” that a child requires to complete their homework so that they are prepared for class in the first place.

When it comes to distinguishing between normal anxiety and anxiety disorder, the degree to which the anxiety “interferes with functioning that you would expect for a child of [a particular age] or developmental stage is what distinguishes the two categories. 

Children who suffer from anxiety disorders will inevitably begin to “avoid situations, things, people, and places that make them anxious.” Avoidance is a defining characteristic of anxiety disorders.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder in Kids

A child’s risk of developing an anxiety disorder is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. According to research, biology, biochemistry, life situations, and learned behaviors all play a role in this phenomenon. Many anxious children have anxious family members. Further, children imitate the behaviors that they see in their surroundings.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder in Kids

Then there’s the genetic component to consider. Anxiety disorders do tend to run in families, but this does not imply that a child will be predisposed to developing the disorder. Likewise, though parents’ actions and reactions to their children’s problems can exacerbate and worsen their problems, this does not necessarily mean that their actions and reactions are the root cause of their children’s problems.

In addition, there are several factors that influence this, including the child’s innate sensitivity as well as family dynamics and life experiences. Some children are born with a natural predisposition to or vulnerability to anxiety, while others have difficulty controlling their feelings of anxiety and fear when they are young adults. However, parents can and should play an important role in assisting children in learning to cope more effectively with their anxiety, and this is not due to anything their parents did or did not do. 

Symptoms: What Anxiety Looks Like in Children?

Anxiety disorders manifest themselves in a variety of physical and psychological manifestations. The way an anxiety disorder manifests itself in a child is determined by the child’s age and the type of anxiety disorder.

Because anxiety can manifest itself in the form of physical symptoms, it is important to consult with a pediatrician to ensure that the behaviors and symptoms are caused by anxiety and not by an underlying medical condition.

Keep an eye out for these symptoms:

☑️ Parents may notice increased irritability, excessive crying, tantrums, as well as greater difficulty self-soothing or self-regulating in toddlers and young children.

☑️ Regressive behaviors such as bedwetting (even if the child is toilet-trained) or excessive clinginess in young children are common among young children.

☑️ Reassurance seeking, rigidity, and a sense of irrational fear or overwhelm at the prospect of new experiences are all symptoms of social anxiety disorder, as are the avoidance of any situation that might set off or exacerbate the anxiety disorder’s symptoms.

☑️ Hypervigilant children often misinterpret innocuous cues as danger signs. Having hypervigilance means that the child is constantly alert and aware of what is going on around them. Children aren’t equipped to do this kind of surveillance, and it’s exhausting to keep an eye on their surroundings.

☑️ It is possible for children of all ages, including those with anxiety disorders, to experience physical symptoms such as stomach and headache pain, frequent urges to go to the bathroom, and shortness of breath, as well as nausea, and vomiting. Gagging and choking can occur in some children. 

ways to help kids with anxiety

Types of Anxiety Disorders in Kids

A child or adolescent may suffer from multiple types of anxiety disorders at the same time. Children who exhibit signs of anxiety, such as excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, or a tendency to become easily upset or upset easily can have their condition diagnosed and treated by the specialists at Soul Mechanics Therapy. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD is an anxiety disorder that affects children and adolescents in a general way, rather than focusing on a specific object or situation. A child may be overly concerned about a variety of things, including his or her academic performance or participation in extracurricular activities, as well as their own or their family members’ safety or the impact of natural disasters.

As a result, children with generalized anxiety find it difficult to focus, learn and participate in social situations because they can’t “turn off” their worrying. Some children may be fearful of making mistakes or failing to live up to other’s expectations, while others may be overly self-conscious or self-doubting. Adolescents and school-aged children are most commonly affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts experienced by children. They perform compulsions, or repetitive actions, rituals, or routines, in order to alleviate the stress caused by these thoughts. Counting, washing, organizing objects, or repeatedly reading a passage of text are all examples of compulsions, as are compulsive behaviors.

Children who suffer from OCD experience significant distress and embarrassment as a result of their obsessive thoughts and behaviors. In general, OCD is most common between the ages of 8 and 12, in late adolescence or early adulthood, but it can occur at any age.

Panic Disorder

Some children and adolescents may have panic attacks if they are in certain situations or places. Shortness of breath, a pounding heart, or tingling sensations all over the body can be signs of a heart attack.

In children who suffer from panic disorder, however, there is no obvious cause for the symptoms of panic that they experience. A panic attack can have a dramatic impact on a child’s life, preventing him or her from engaging in normal daily activities. Fear of future attacks can cause a child to become preoccupied. Adolescence is the most common time for the onset of panic disorder, but it can happen earlier in life.

Specific Phobias

There are a lot of fears in childhood, but children usually overcome them as they grow older. However, for some children and teenagers, anxiety can reach dangerous levels. Having a fear that lasts for an extended period of time may be a sign of a phobia, which is an intense, irrational fear of a specific object or situation.

In contrast to normal fears, phobias do not diminish with reassurance, and they have a negative impact on the lives of children. Phobias can develop in children as young as five. Animals, insects, heights, thunder, driving, dental or medical procedures, and elevators are among the most common phobias.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

When children with separation anxiety disorder are separated from their parents or primary caregivers, they experience intense anxiety and worry. A child’s social and academic functioning will suffer if he or she has this fear.

Children who refuse to attend play dates or sleepovers away from a parent or caretaker may find making and maintaining friendships difficult.

Selective Mutism

Certain people or situations can cause children to lose their ability to express themselves, leading to selective mutism. Some children with selective mutism avoid eye contact and communication with others.

However, some children prefer to be left alone or rely on a close friend to speak for them when they’re around others. Children before the age of 10 are most likely on the verge of suffering from selective mutism.

Anxiety Disorder in Kids

Types of Anxiety Disorders in Kids

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best treatment for anxiety disorders in kids. This is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on teaching families, children, and teenagers how to deal with their fears, anxieties, and worries.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches children that their feelings are influenced by their thoughts and actions. For children, the fear of what they are afraid of is reinforced through cognitive behavioral therapy. In time, they learn how to overcome their fears by confronting them head-on. 

At Soul Mechanics Therapy, the therapists will help your kid in practice, and they will offer encouragement and praise as they do so. Kids gradually gain the confidence to face their fears and come out on the other side feeling better. They learn how to overcome their fears. As a result, your kid will be able to focus on more enjoyable pursuits, such as school, sports, and hobbies. Anxiety is sometimes also treated with medications.

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