Anxiety Support for Children
It is normal for everyone, including children, to experience anxiety. In certain ways, it is beneficial to feel stress to help us in certain situations. However, when anxiety is having a negative impact on the child’s life in school, at home, or other activities, anxiety support is necessary.
Treatment Options for Anxiety in Children
There is slight controversy with regards to treatment options for children who have anxiety, but most experts agree that a combination of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication is what works best.
Antidepressants, or more specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are what has proved useful in treating anxiety disorder in children. This is where the controversy lies because some studies have linked antidepressants to suicide amongst children and teenagers. Medication has its many benefits, but if this treatment option is being used, the child needs to be closely monitored.
Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT):
Children with anxiety will have many negative thinking patterns and behaviors, and will also have a hard time identifying what is real and what is fake. A CBT therapist will do many activities with the child to provide them with tools and techniques to help them with these issues.
Anxiety Treatment Centers for Children:
There are centers that specialize in the treatment of anxiety in children. If this is a possibility for treating your child, it is the best option. In these centers, the child and parent work closely with a team of professionals who will identify and monitor all parts of the treatment including medication and CBT.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety in Children:
Because many parents hesitate to give young children medication, they may choose a more holistic approach. Breathing techniques and yoga can be beneficial in helping the child relax during stressful situations. Certain supplements have also been known to help such as:
- Omega 3
- Vitamin B Complex
- Lavender, lemon, and chamomile
Tips for Parents and Caregivers of Children with Anxiety
Parents, teachers, and others in contact with children who are anxious can find it very difficult and this is normal. They often feel helpless when all they want is for the child to feel better. The good news is there are some tips you can follow to help your child manage their anxiety.
- Don’t avoid things that scare your child: Your child may have fears and they will avoid situations that will put them in contact with these. Do not encourage this avoidance. I’m not saying to push the kid past his limits, but exposure treatment is very beneficial to help anxiety. When your child faces one of these fears, give them positive feedback, give them a hug, or a high five, just make sure they feel rewarded for their accomplishment.
- Be positive: Anxious children are very critical of themselves. It is important for you to focus on their positive features and their accomplishments. Help them see the positive in situations rather than focus on the negative.
- Plan stress-free activities: Although sports can be great for children in many aspects, the competitive nature can increase anxiety in children. It is important for a child to engage in activities that are truly just for fun.
- Have a sleep routine in place: good sleep habits are important for every child, but especially those with anxiety. It is important to have a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This includes weekends.
- Encourage self-expression: It’s important to validate what your child is feeling and to encourage them to express it. When your child tells you that something scares them, it will not be helpful to say, “Don’t be scared, you’re fine”. Instead, you should try “I can see that you are scared, what is worrying you?” This will encourage your child to tell you how they feel.
When it comes to treating anxiety in children, it can be hard to decide what the best options are. The best thing to do is to educate yourself on all your options, ask questions, and do what you feel is best for your child.