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What Is Anxiety For Kids

Give Them Something Else To Focus On

Fight Flight Freeze â A Guide to Anxiety for Kids

Fidget toys and tools can be used to help a child struggling with anxiety. They can help when feeling anxious or experiencing anxiety symptoms as they can redirect restlessness by giving our fingers something to do. Fidget items can be a great distraction for a child with anxiety and can be used as a lasting technique to help manage their anxiety.

Supporting Children With Anxiety

If you think your child has anxiety, you can support them by:

  • acknowledging your childs fears dont dismiss or ignore them
  • gently encouraging your child to do things theyre anxious about
  • waiting until your child actually gets anxious before you step in to help
  • praising your child for doing something theyre anxious about
  • avoiding labelling your child as shy or anxious

Teach Them Relaxation Breathing Techniques

You cant always prepare your child for every situation thats not how life works. So, teaching your child what to do when anxiety creeps up will empower them to start tackling their fears and reassure them they will be ok.

Breathing techniques, in particular, are extremely beneficial to reduce anxiety.

When they feel anxious, teach them to breath in slowly for four counts, then breath out slowly for another four counts. Repeat this ten times, or as needed to calm the body.

For younger kids, you can use the bubble method to teach this breathing technique. Get a bubble wand and ask them to breath in for four, then blow at the wand for four, making a bubble.

Read Also: What To Do If You Have Anxiety

What Can I Do As A Parent

  • Set Clear Expectations
  • The future is uncertain, and there is little we can do to change that uncertainty. We dont know if our childs fears of failing a test are going to come true or not, and we dont know if theyre going to interact with social interactions they would rather not interact in. What we can do is set expectations that are attainable. Instead of saying Im sure youll ace this test! try saying you studied hard, and no matter what the outcome is, Im proud of you for putting effort into this. if you go to the birthday party and want to leave right away thats fine, just say hello to the birthday girl first and give her the present. Then we can go home, okay? What you are doing in this situation is expressing confidence that theyre going to be okay, they will be able to manage it, and that, as they face their fears, the anxiety level will drop over time. This gives them confidence that your expectations are realistic, and that youre not going to ask them to do something they cant handle.
  • Theres No Avoiding It
  • Let Your Child Worry
  • No ones fear has ever been stopped by saying its okay! or dont worry! Instead, validate your childs feelings while not validating the ideas behind them.
  • I dont like going to school, there are too many people there, can I stay home?
  • I can see that youre anxious, do you want to talk about it?
  • Reframing
  • Name a worry floating around in your brain right now.
  • What is the worry telling you?
  • Back to the Basics
  • Other Ways To Ease Anxiety In Children

    Your child feeling anxious all the time? Here are some tips and tricks ...
    • teach your child to recognise signs of anxiety in themselves
    • encourage your child to manage their anxiety and ask for help when they need it
    • children of all ages find routines reassuring, so try to stick to regular daily routines where possible
    • if your child is anxious because of distressing events, such as a bereavement or separation, look for books or films that will help them to understand their feelings
    • if you know a change, such as a house move, is coming up, prepare your child by talking to them about what is going to happen and why
    • try not to become overprotective or anxious yourself
    • practice simple relaxation techniques with your child, such as taking 3 deep, slow breaths, breathing in for a count of 3 and out for 3. You’ll find more guidance for helping children with anxiety on the Young Minds website
    • distraction can be helpful for young children. For example, if they are anxious about going to nursery, play games on the way there, such as seeing who can spot the most red cars
    • turn an empty tissue box into a “worry” box. Get your child to write about or draw their worries and “post” them into the box. Then you can sort through the box together at the end of the day or week

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    Explain Why Theyre Feeling This Way

    Be empathetic towards the childs feelings. Listen to why theyre anxious, and explain to them that their body is made to protect them against dangers, but that they are seeing dangers where they do not exist. Understanding this can help a child to stay calm when they start to feel the physical symptoms of anxiety.

    Prepare Your Child For Anxiety

    Fear of the unknown is a major trigger for anxiety. It provokes a spiral of negative what ifs that can leave your child paralysed with fear.

    So, when taking your child somewhere they may be unfamiliar with, its a good idea to brief them on what they can expect.

    Focus on the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

    The more information they have going in, the more comfortable they will feel that they wont be blindsided by unexpected occurrences.

    Also Check: What To Do If Your Having An Anxiety Attack

    How Can I Tell If A Child Or Teen Has Anxiety

    While there are general symptoms of anxiety, a child or adolescent may not have every symptom or have any visible symptoms.

    Physical symptoms of anxiety may include:

    • Consistent stomachaches or headaches

    Emotional and behavioral symptoms may include:

    • Constantly discussing fears and worries
    • Spending increased time alone, or avoiding social events
    • Worsening educational performance, including skipping classes or the school day altogether

    How To Treat Anxiety In Children

    Brain Basics: Anxiety for Kids – with Lee Constable

    Anxiety disorders are very treatable. The earlier a child receives the anxiety treatment, the easier it is to manage and ultimately recover from.

    At Priory, as part of our Young People’s Service, we can offer education about anxiety to a young person and their family, which may be through family therapy. Family therapy can help everyones strengths come to the fore to assist the young person to recover and remain well. We can also offer individual therapy to teach the young person skills to manage their worries this may be in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy .

    Treatment offered by Priory will teach a child helpful skills for life. If they find worries popping up in the future, they will have a toolbox to help them to tackle each concern at a time.

    If necessary, we can offer medication prescribed by specialist child and adolescent psychiatrists, who will also help to monitor the young persons medication, mental health and risks.

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    What Not To Do When A Child Is Anxious

    At one time or another, every parent has made a well-meaning mistake that made things worse. For instance, you may be quick to dismiss a youngster’s emotions or label them wrong,” Gilboa says. “We’re so used to guiding our kids’ behavior that we try to guide their feelings as well,” she says. “It never works.”

    Pressuring a child to feel a certain way may cause him to hide his or her real emotions. That can make it more difficult to recognize the seriousness of the problem. “If our kids can’t express their feelings to us and know that they’ll be heard, we will never know if they’re experiencing true anxiety that needs attention,” she says.

    Other parents may be too ready to accommodate their children by simply avoiding situations that trigger anxiety. That can backfire, too. When children stop going to the pool with friends because they fear water or avoid sleepovers because theyre uncomfortable in the dark, those limitations may add to their anxiety. “It’s really stressful not being able to do the things that other people do,” Chansky says.

    If left undiagnosed and untreated, a child with an anxiety disorder is at increased risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors, such as self-harm, substance abuse and bullying. “They develop negative coping strategies,” Gilboa says.

    How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated

    Most often, anxiety disorders are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy . This is a type of talk therapy that helps families, kids, and teens learn to manage worry, fear, and anxiety.

    CBT teaches kids that what they think and do affects how they feel. In CBT, kids learn that when they avoid what they fear, the fear stays strong. They learn that when they face a fear, the fear gets weak and goes away.

    In CBT:

    • Parents learn how to best respond when a child is anxious. They learn how to help kids face fears.
    • Kids learn coping skills so they can face fear and worry less.

    The therapist helps kids practice, and gives support and praise as they try. Over time, kids learn to face fears and feel better. They learn to get used to situations they’re afraid of. They feel proud of what they’ve learned. And without so many worries, they can focus on other things like school, activities, and fun. Sometimes, medicines are also used to help treat anxiety.

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    How To Address Kids Anxiety

    The first step is to acknowledge your childs condition so you can learn more about it. “Whatever struggles our kids face, we want them to develop positive coping strategies,” Gilboa says. “Naming the problem makes that easier.”

    Typically, it takes a professional to name the problem. That could mean a school psychologist, pediatrician or therapist. Counseling worked wonders for Sawyer. Both he and August now recognize their anxiety and use creative tactics to get through scary situations.

    If you’re an Aetna member, primary care doctors can provide mental health screenings. Treatment for anxiety is covered by Aetna’s Behavioral Health program.

    Children With Anxiety Have A Greater Risk Of Having Psychological Problems As Adults

    Understanding and Managing Childhood Anxiety

    One of the reasons that it is important to get medical help for your child if they appear to be having unhealthy anxiety is that children with anxiety appear to have a greater risk of developing mental illness as adults. For example, childhood social anxiety disorder predicts adolescent social anxiety disorder. Overanxious disorder is associated with later OAD, panic attacks and depression. Social phobia in childhood is associated with adolescent OAD, social phobia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder .

    So it is important to seek help for your child if he or she seems to be overly anxious. If you do, it will help them to avoid having psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood.

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    When Is Anxiety A Problem For Children

    Anxiety becomes a problem for children when it starts to get in the way of their everyday life.

    If you go into any school at exam time, all the children will be anxious, but some may be so anxious that they don’t manage to get to school that morning.

    Severe anxiety like this can harm children’s mental and emotional wellbeing, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. They may become withdrawn and go to great lengths to avoid things or situations that make them feel anxious.

    Myth: People Need Medication To Manage Their Anxiety

    Long-term use of medication is not needed in many cases to treat anxiety. Sometimes short-term use of medication is suggested to reduce symptoms as someone begins a treatment plan. There are many proven ways to treat anxiety, including plans that include meditation and mindfulness, individual and group therapy, exercise, and more. Medication is just one option in treating anxiety that mayor may notwork for the patient.

    Read Also: How To Get Over Presentation Anxiety

    In A Calmer Moment Talk With Your Child About Their Anxiety

    Ask them what it feels like in their mind and body, and what things make them feel that way. It can be tempting to dismiss their worries because you want to reassure them, but its important to empathise with their experience and validate their feelings. You can find more tips on our guide to starting a conversation.

    • reflect on how youre feeling
    • talk to other people you trust
    • remind yourself youre not alone odds are someone in your friendship circle has anxiety or depression too

    How Is Anxiety Diagnosed In Children

    Managing Worry and Anxiety for Kids

    If youre wondering whether your child has an anxiety disorder, the first step is a conversation with your childs pediatrician or primary care provider. They can help assess the severity and recommend a mental health expert or a clinic that specializes in diagnosing and treating children.

    Once you find a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist to work with, theyll likely do an evaluation involving a screening and assessment tools designed specifically for children.

    After reaching a diagnosis, theyll work with you on developing a treatment plan that may involve psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle interventions.

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    What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety What Ages Do They Affect

    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    • What it is:
    • Chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
  • What age it can begin:
  • The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age.
  • Panic Disorder
  • What it is:
  • Characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
  • What age it can begin:
  • Panic disorder usually begins in adulthood , but children can also have panic disorder
  • Specific Phobias
  • What it is:
  • Fears associated with specific places or things, animate or inanimate. Phobias of heights, tight spaces, clowns, and spiders are among the most common ones.
  • What age it can begin:
  • While some phobias develop in childhood, most seem to arise unexpectedly, usually during adolescence or early adulthood.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • What it is:
  • Overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
  • What age it can begin:
  • PTSD
  • What it is:
  • What age it can begin:
  • What age it can begin:
  • What age it can begin:
  • Breathe In Breathe Out

    Youve got this. Ironically, trying to figure out how to have challenging conversations with your children about topics such as mental health can in fact spark some anxiety in itself. However, working with the tools listed above is not only beneficial for your child when it comes to understanding and managing anxiety, but for yourself as well. So dont forget to take a deep breath and a moment for yourself, remember, you are your childs best example.

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    Find A Dentist You Like

    Managing dental anxiety starts with finding a dental practice and sticking with it. Establishing a dental “home” offers the chance for you and your dentist to get to know each other, which can make it easier for the dentist to address some of your concerns.

    “Dentists can accommodate anxiety to some degree. I always keep notes of how a patient handled a procedure, from the anesthesia to how long they can lay in the chair without becoming fidgety to what TV shows they like to watch,” says Dr. Khang. “This becomes a growing list for me to keep the patient more and more comfortable in future encounters.”

    To find the right dentist for you, the American Dental Association recommends doing the following:

    • âAsk trusted friends or family members who live in your area for their suggestionsâ. If they love their dentist, you may want to check out the same office.
    • âDo an online search for providers in your areaâ, and pay attention to patient reviews. Certain reviewers may mention having dental anxiety and how that particular provider dealt with it.
    • âUse social media.â Ask your local Facebook groups for recommendations and search providers’ social media pages for patient reviews.
    • âInterview the dentist and their team.â Ask about their treatment approach and bring along any other questions you need answered in order to feel safe and comfortable in their care.

    Tip

    Symptoms Of Anxiety In Children

    Relieve School Anxiety for Special Need Children

    Signs to look out for in your child are:

    • finding it hard to concentrate
    • not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
    • not eating properly
    • quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
    • always worrying or having negative thoughts
    • feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
    • always crying
    • being clingy
    • complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell

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    What Are The Causes

    Just like any other disorder or imbalance, there are various different reasons a person might develop anxiety.

    • Genetics
    • If someone in the childs family has anxiety, there is a chance that the anxiety has been passed down, and kids could inherit certain genes that make them prone to anxiety.
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Genes that help process certain brain chemicals might be in short supply. When that happens, anxiety is likely to develop.
  • Life Events
  • Children and teens who experience a traumatic life event or a stressful situation could develop anxiety as a way to cope with the event. Such events include:
  • Loss of someone they knew or looked up to
  • Violence: They could have seen someone get hurt through an act of violence, which would make them scared to experience that again.
  • Abuse: any kind of abuse could lead to anxiety, whether the abuse is aimed towards the child or someone else.
  • Serious illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Learned Anxiety
  • Having a parent or caregiver afraid of something might teach the child to fear or feel anxiety towards the same thing.
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