What Parents Can Do When Their Child Is Anxious
When anxiety and avoidance behavior interfere with life activities in the family, school, or the community, a child may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition among adolescents with close to 32% of youth experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in their childhood or adolescence. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are treatable. This article may assist you in helping your child with anxiety.
Consider Treatment Options
Anxiety disorders tend to persist without treatment. A psychotherapist or a psychiatrist can determine if your child has an anxiety disorder and what type of treatment is needed. Psychotherapy is an effective method for treating childhood anxiety disorders. In fact, psychotherapy is a first line treatment for anxiety disorders. Family interventions that focus on changing parent behavior have been shown to be effective in treating childhood anxiety disorders even when the child is not receptive to treatment. In general, psychotherapy for anxiety disorders involves increasing exposure to anxiety-related things and situations while teaching strategies to manage anxiety.
Different types of professionals provide psychotherapy, such as licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and licensed psychologists. The most important thing is to find a psychotherapist who is a good fit for your family. Psychotherapy is most effective when you feel understood, participate in creating therapy goals, and provide the therapist with feedback. When you begin working with a psychotherapist, it may be helpful to ask questions about therapy. Here are some examples of questions to ask a therapist.
- What is your professional background?
- What kind of therapy do you think might help my child and our family?
- What will we do in therapy to help my child and our family with this problem?
- How often will we meet and for how long?
- How will we evaluate my child’s progress?
- How likely is it that this therapy will help my child and our family?
- What should I do if my child is not getting better?
- How much will therapy cost and do you take my insurance?
Psychotropic medications are used to treat anxiety disorders. If you want to consider psychotropic medication to treat your child’s anxiety disorder, speaking with your child’s pediatrician is likely the first step. Some pediatricians prescribe psychotropic medication and others prefer that a psychiatrist prescribe the medication.
Create a Plan to Approach Anxiety-Related Things or Situations
An anxiety disorder involves anxiety and fear in reaction to a thing or situation that does not pose a real danger. Parents will often accommodate their child’s need to avoid or escape things or situations that evoke anxiety. Some of the most common ways that parents allow their children to avoid anxiety-inducing situations include speaking for the child in social settings, letting the child sleep in the parents’ bed, and permitting the child to avoid school or other social situations.
Allowing or helping your child to avoid distressing situations is a natural and well-intended reaction that provides short-term relief for your child and possibly for you. Unfortunately, in the long run, the more a child avoids anxiety-related situations the stronger the anxiety disorder becomes. By helping your child face situations that evoke anxiety, you are giving your child an opportunity to learn that his or her fears are unfounded.