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Childhood Anxiety


Just like adults, children often struggle with anxiety too. They often worry about their grades, fitting in with their peers, or separating from parents. Although most children will worry, some kids experience excessive distress that causes severe impairment in their academic and social functioning. A study showed that 8% of teens between 13-18 years old reported having an anxiety disorder, with many of the symptoms appearing at the age of 6 (NIMH).

How do you know your child is struggling with anxiety? Here are some signs that may indicate that symptoms of anxiety:

1. Experiences excessive fear that is developmentally inappropriate
2. Has difficulty with transitions or coping with unexpected changes in their routine
3. Avoids or refuses to participate in particular activities
4. Experiences physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
5. Cries, is irritable, or displays anger outbursts due to anxiety.

Sometimes it can be very frustrating to parent a child who feels anxious. However, there are helpful strategies that can ease the worry a child experiences. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers to consider if the child struggling with anxiety.

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2. Model how to cope with stressful situations. Parents are in the best position to show how to cope with anxiety. Try to demonstrate problem-solving strategies or positive self-talk when there opportunities arise.

3. Praise for small accomplishments. Children who worry often avoid things or situations that they are anxious of. Provide positive reinforcement when attempt to face their fears or take steps to challenge their worries.

4. Warning for transitions. If possible, give your child some warning of when transitions will be coming up. For example, preparing your child ready to start or end school can begin a few weeks prior to the transition. Give them opportunity to ask questions and express their worries.

5. Don’t punish your child for behaviors related to anxiety. Sometimes children may be irritable or oppositional. Often anxious children are not be trying to be purposefully disobedient but these behaviors are a result of avoiding things they fear and worry.

6. Seek professional help. If the anxiety becomes severe and interferes with your child’s functioning, it may be time to consider getting help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment to address anxiety.


Information from the National Institute of Mental Health (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders-in-children-and-adolescents/index.shtml) and “Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders.” 2007. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 46(2): 267-283.

Dreams for Our Children


Many parents have hopes and dreams of what their child will do or become in life. Do the goals that you have for your child line up with the goals that they have for themselves? If you are not sure how to answer this question, this may be a great conversation to have with your child.

Many children have big dreams of what they want to be when they become adults. Let’s nurture that hope and help them develop a plan and then set them on a path to achieve that goal.

You may be wondering, “How do I go about doing this for my child?“

That’s a great question.

Many parents want great things for their child, hoping that their children can have opportunities and experiences they feel they have missed in their own childhood. This may lead many parents to feel anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of helping their child plan for their future: Many people have experienced the shattering of their own dreams after being a hopeful child and excited about the future. After these painful experiences it can be very scary to face an unknown future and the possibility one’s own child may also experience the same kind of hurt.

What can I do to help my child achieve their goal(s)?

  1. Have a conversation about what their goal(s) are. If they are not sure what their goals are, encourage them on what you’ve noticed that they are good at and just start the conversation. Children want to share their life with their parents (even when they say they don’t). Children long for their parent’s approval. Your child wants your support more than any other person.
  2. If you do not know who your child’s school counselor is, call the school and ask. Your child’s school counselor has a wealth of experience in helping children plan and begin working toward current and future goals. Create a working relationship with the school counselor to ensure your child has all the support they need from the school and from you to achieve their current and future goals.
  3. Ensure your child has regular attendance at school. If your child is reluctant to participate in school or resistant to attend, there is a reason. There are many reasons why a child may refuse to attend school and whatever they are, they need to be identified so that you can help your child overcome barriers to achieving their goals in life. If you are having a difficult time identifying what that reason is or how to manage the situation, reach out to the school counselor or a therapist. There are many people ready and willing to help you support your child in achieving their highest potential.

 

Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago