Anxiety in children is quite common and goes in phases naturally due to the new emotions, settings, and relational dynamics they are constantly experiencing. These phases that come and go are a normal part of childhood. However, when children consistently have feelings of fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities, it is important to take these signs seriously.
According to the Child Mind Institute, 80 percent of children in this country who have a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not being treated. Left to progress, anxiety disorders can lead to depression and create severe barriers to the normal progression of life with regards to relationships, educational progress, experiences, and overall health. Research tells us that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and often become engaged in substance abuse.
What are Parents to Do?
- First, it’s important to be attentive to your child’s feelings. Notice patterns, refusals to participate, or specific stressors that may trigger fear in your child.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about their anxiety, and seek to understand what they’re feeling. It’s important that your child feel that it is safe to talk to you about their feelings without judgement or feelings that they should “just snap out of it.”
- Seek the assistance of a psychologist or social worker. This is paramount in order to assist both your child and you in creating a plan to break through the barriers that anxiety is causing in your child’s life and for your family. In some cases, a therapist may feel that a psychiatrist’s opinion should be sought for pharmaceutical treatment as well.
- Stay calm when your child becomes anxious about a situation or event. Be the reflection of how your child hopes to be able to handle stressful situations in the future. Even small steps in the right direction are important and should be praised and recognized.
- Maintaining a regular routine is important for children with anxiety disorders. Sudden changes can trigger extreme anxiety and fear of the unknown. This is especially important in situations like getting to school on time and going to social outings. Allow extra time for these activities and help them set a plan that you will follow together in order to avoid stressful situations.
- Your child’s anxiety disorder does not mean that you are a bad parent. Acknowledge the stress and feelings that your child’s disorder brings to the family and take measures to build a network of support and well-being for yourself and others in your family.
Children are resilient, and with the right treatment and family plan, children with anxiety disorders can overcome the barriers that keep them from experiencing all there is to enjoy about youth and growing. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong battle. Call the Solace Psychiatry At Riverstone at (281) 778-9530 today to learn more about how we can help.