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When To Worry About Child Anxiety

When To Worry About Child Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life for people of all ages. Your child will probably demonstrate anxiety on the first day of school or the first time riding a bike without training wheels. You wouldn’t be surprised if you got a call from your child at their first sleepover with a friend. However, sometimes anxiety is more than just a nervous feeling. If anxiety is seriously affecting your child’s life regularly, they may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is a feeling of panic that is out of proportion with the actual danger present, is difficult to control, and happens daily.

Does My Child Have Anxiety Disorder?

There are many common expressions of anxiety disorder. If your child regularly demonstrates a fear of being separated from their parents, they display separation anxiety. An extreme fear of a specific thing, such as birds or small spaces, is called a phobia. A few other examples of anxiety disorder are:

  • Social anxiety- the fear of being around large groups of people or groups of new people
  • General anxiety- a persistent worry about the future or bad things that could happen
  • Panic disorder- episodes of sudden, intense fear characterized by elevated heart rate, sweating, trouble breathing, or dizziness.
  • Performance anxiety- extreme fear connected to performing well on a test or at an extracurricular activity

It can be difficult for parents to distinguish between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder in their children. Still, if the anxiety is persistent and strong, you should contact a mental health provider who works with children to address your child’s anxiety.

How We Treat Children With Anxiety Disorder

At Sun Behavioral Center, we have staff certified to treat children in our children’s psychiatry program. In this program, we create an individualized program to help your child learn to cope with their anxiety disorder by using evidence-based treatments that are proven to get results.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment method designed to help your child become aware of negative or harmful thinking and replace those thoughts with more helpful, positive ones. CBT helps children with anxiety see that many of their fears are not as dire as they believe, and they can overcome these feelings with time and practice.

Emotional Regulation Training (ERT)

Emotional Regulation Training’s (ERT) goal is to develop emotional awareness through education about the purpose of feelings. In addition, ERT develops compassionate self-talk in a child to enable them to process emotions and discern the most beneficial actions to take.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy. This approach seeks to teach skills used to cope with and alter unhealthy behaviors. DBT is for patients who are difficult to treat and helps treat individuals overwhelmed with emotion.

Motivational interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a treatment method used to help patients increase their motivation to make changes. During MI a therapist will help your child imagine how they might make positive changes. MI helps a child move through the emotional stages necessary for them to find motivation.

Supporting Children With Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life that everyone experiences. However, if you are a parent or other significant adult in a child’s life, you should know how to support them when they experience anxiety. You can not cure a child’s anxiety, but you can support them through their anxiety.

One technique to decrease anxiety is breathing deeply and slowly with your child. It is helpful to do this while counting to an agreed-upon number while breathing in and exhaling. Slow deep breathing such as this will relax the body and give the child an opportunity to regain their composure.

If you are a trusted adult, it can help to sit with your child and offer physical reassurance. Holding the child, gently touching their arm, or rubbing their back are examples of physical comfort that can be helpful. Make sure the child gives consent to be touched. Unwanted physical contact can increase anxiety and make the situation worse.

You can help a child decrease their anxiety by assisting them in using their senses to experience the present moment. Ask them to name things they can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. Doing this grounds a person in the present moment and decreases worry about what could happen in the future.

It is helpful for some individuals to picture a location that makes them feel safe. You can prompt an anxious child by asking them about this location and what makes it safe. Conversation with you about what makes them feel safe can decrease their anxiety and help them reengage in the present moment.

You can encourage children experiencing anxiety to do something that helps them calm down. Some examples of things that can reduce anxiety are:

  • Physical movement
  • Time outside
  • Reading a book
  • Writing in a journal
  • Creating art
  • Listening to music

It is important to remember that you can not cure anxiety in your child, but you can help them through anxiety. When doing so, you must avoid removing them from an anxious situation if possible. Doing so teaches the child they can avoid uncomfortable situations by becoming upset. Instead, let your child know that you will support them through the anxiety, give them tools to process it, and set realistic, age-appropriate goals they can achieve when managing their anxiety.

Anxiety Treatment at SUN Columbus

If you are looking for child or adolescent therapy treatment for anxiety, SUN Columbus’  highly trained and empathetic mental health professionals will address your child’s mental health condition. We are excited to help your child learn to manage feelings of anxiety and experience mental wellness honestly. Call us today at 614-706-2786 to receive more information about mental health treatment options for your child.


Frequently Asked Questions About Childhood Anxiety

What Does Childhood Anxiety Look Like?

Anxiety can look different depending on the child. Still, some common signs of anxiety in children are feeling sick, sweating, excessive worry about daily situations, being full of dread, withdrawing, and feeling out of control.

What Do I Do if My Child Has Anxiety?

Everyone has anxiety at some point in their lives. You can best support your child through the anxiety so they can learn to cope with it. You may also need to connect your child to a mental health professional if their anxiety is persistent. A therapist will be able to give your child the tools they need to find success in managing their anxiety.

Is it Normal For A 7-Year-Old to Have Anxiety?

It is normal for everyone to experience anxiety. For example, 7-year-olds may express anxiety about things such as conflicts between friends at school, changing family dynamics, or new situations. Often people learn to cope with these situations as a part of growing up, but sometimes people need the assistance of a mental health provider to equip them to succeed at managing their anxiety.

What Triggers Childhood Anxiety?

Many different factors can trigger childhood anxiety disorders. Often it has to do with a recent traumatic event or big change, such as changing schools, the death of a significant person in their lives, or bullying. Another risk factor is being around anxious adults and learning their responses to stress. However, there is no definitive cause of anxiety disorders in children.

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