While being anxious is normal at times, if your child’s anxiety becomes overwhelming, it can interfere with their daily functioning. They may have trouble sleeping, have persistent physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches, irritability and difficulty concentrating. They might also engage in a type of self-harming behavior known as Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB) like hair pulling, skin picking or fingernail biting. They may also experience irrational fears, such as being killed or hurt by a dog, feeling out of control, or feeling overwhelmed in social situations. Occasionally, children who are overly worried can have a low mood or even depression.
Anxiety can cause kids to lash out in ways that are difficult for parents to understand or handle. For example, they may become argumentative or aggressive in school, at home or with friends. Some children may start to avoid people or activities they find stressful, which can lead to isolation. It is important for parents to recognize that their child is struggling and seek help from a mental health professional.
Children of all ages can benefit from a talk therapist, but it is especially vital for teens to receive treatment. A therapist can provide tools and techniques that will teach them to cope with their anxiety. They can help them learn to practice mindfulness exercises, such as counting things that are visible or focusing on breathing slowly to reduce the intensity of their worries. They can also use relaxation and visualization techniques to help them calm down when they feel anxious.
If your child has anxiety, it is important to get them help before the problems worsen. Talk to your pediatrician about your concerns and ask for a referral for a therapist. They can assess whether your child’s anxiety is causing significant problems and help them decide on a care plan that works for their needs.
In the earliest stages of anxiety, kids may need frequent reassurance or have trouble sleeping. As they get older, anxiety can lead to restlessness or being unable to concentrate in school. It is also common for kids to be afraid of separation from their family, costumed characters and loud noises.
The best way to treat anxiety is through exposure therapy, a technique that involves gradually exposing your child to their anxiety triggers in a safe environment with a therapist by their side. The therapist can help them learn to recognize that their fear is not as dangerous as their anxiety would suggest, and it will eventually fade.
Often, children who are battling anxiety will not communicate their feelings to their parents because they don’t want them to think they are weak or scared. This can make the problem worse, as the child may begin to believe their anxieties are valid. For this reason, it’s essential for parents to be involved in the evaluation and treatment process of their children, and to help them find a therapist who is experienced with working with adolescents.