Childhood anxiety can manifest in many ways. Some children are perfectionists and deeply afraid of making mistakes, often to the extent that they avoid certain tasks or situations. Other children are resistant to change; they struggle to adjust to shifts in routine or cannot function well in unstructured environments. Still other children are highly sensitive; they are prone to self-criticism, excessive worry and emotional outbursts. Regardless of how your child experiences anxiety, trying to understand and address his or her symptoms can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed yourself.
Because childhood anxiety manifests itself in many ways, it can be difficult for parents to identify and help their child. Oftentimes, anxious children are very high functioning and polite, so their anxiety can be masked behind achievements and overly accommodating behaviors. Children prone to anxiety also tend to be naturally sensitive, making it hard for parents to determine if certain symptoms are a reflection of their child’s inherent temperament or if they are indicative of deeper issues at play.
Although it can be difficult to determine if your child is experiencing heightened anxiety, there are a few classic, concerning symptoms to look for. If your child is experiencing an irritability that is affecting his or her ability to function well, has noticeable self-esteem issues, is overly critical of his or herself or of others, avoids specific situations or is unable to bounce back from minor setbacks, seeking professional help may be essential. A trained and experienced therapist can help determine if your child is going through a phase, experiencing increased stress due to a particular life circumstance, or is suffering from a childhood anxiety disorder.
Our experienced child therapists draw from age-appropriate approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness exercises, and play therapy for younger children. Childhood anxiety treatment focuses on helping your child recognize the physical signs, thoughts, and feelings that trigger anxiety while developing relaxation skills to induce a sense of calm and comfort. Your child’s therapist will also teach your child effective problem-solving skills, in order to respond to stressful situations with more clarity and confidence. Your therapist can help identify any self-limiting beliefs that may have been hindering your child’s confidence, replacing those with a more realistic, positive and empowering lens.
Your child therapist can also provide you with parental guidance and support. At Waterford Counseling, our therapists recognize the needs of the entire family, and thus equip parents with education, tools and strategies to reduce stress and undue strain. Your therapist will offer strategies to you as a parent to use on a daily basis as well as in the moments when heightened anxiety consumes your child. You can develop skills to help your child self-regulate his or her emotions, calm down, and view situations more positively and practically.
It is often said, “Small child, small problem. Big child, big problem.” Seeking early intervention while your child is young can prevent counterproductive patterns from becoming entrenched while providing your child with valuable, lifelong coping skills. With the right approach and therapist, both you and your child can become better equipped to deal with difficult emotions and handle the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence. Getting support and strategies in place now can not only help your child feel and function better sooner, but it can also set the stage for your child’s long-term mental, emotional and academic success.
It can be helpful to look at therapy as an investment in your child’s immediate and long-term well-being, as well as an investment in yourself and your family. Highly anxious, sensitive children can be challenging to understand and relate to, which can create conflict at home and at school. Potential behavior and performance issues, resulting from your child’s struggles, may also increase stress for your child, his or her teachers and your family. Investing in your child now can create the opportunity for him or her to work through anxiety. Both you and your child can learn behavioral modification and stress reduction techniques that can provide a great sense of relief. When your child feels and functions better, harmony at home and school can be restored, benefiting your child and everyone involved.
Anxiety is extremely common. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in the U.S. However, just because anxiety is common does not mean it should be overlooked or ignored. In fact, anxious feelings can be “contagious.” If one family member is experiencing heightened anxiety, everyone else in the home may be impacted. It’s common for small problems to routinely feel like really big deals, making it hard for everyone to relax.
Although it can be hard for the untrained person to diagnosis anxiety, you know your child better than anyone else. If your child appears to be suffering and you believe a problem exists, one likely does. Your Waterford Counseling child therapist can help to determine if your child is, in fact, suffering from an anxiety disorder or if there are other issues that need to be addressed.
If your instincts are telling you that a problem exists, there is a good chance that you are right. However, because anxiety can be hard to diagnose by the untrained person, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced child therapists who specialize in treating adjustment issues and anxiety disorders. A consultation may really help to determine if therapy or other treatments are necessary and could provide both you and your child with relief. And, while every child and family situation is unique, therapy for children is often a very helpful process.
Early intervention child counseling can do so much to help you and your child better manage anxiety symptoms and gain the tools, skills and support you need to be successful. Getting help now can also help prevent anxiety symptoms from getting worse. With tools and support, it is possible for you to gain a better understanding of your child and for everyone to experience more ease, joy and harmony now and in the future.
You don’t need to feel overwhelmed by your child’s behavior or fearful about your child’s future. Waterford Counseling and Psychological Services can help bring direction and light to your child’s struggles. Like any parent, you want the best for your child. Let us help you find the path toward sustainable, comprehensive treatment.
We invite you to call Waterford Counseling Services at 630-898-5322 for a free, brief phone consultation.
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