What your anxious child needs
A child's anxiety, run amok, challenges everyone in the family . . . parents, siblings, family friends and relatives . . . and, of course, your beloved child. Due to the nature of anxiety, which represents a system on over-arousal and hyper-alert, everyone becomes stretched thin with emotional, cognitive, physical, and relational resources being chronically drained. Relief is desired but often efforts made escalate and exacerbate the problem. Parents can swing from over-control to over-coddling, leaving their child without the necessary tools for learning how to self-regulate, use support appropriately, and find success in unsettling circumstances.
There are many good resources (books, websites, podcasts) that speak to childhood anxiety and can provide positive coaching and excellent ideas for parents looking to try new things. But, anxiety's roots need to be ascertained in order to zero in on the most suitable course of intervention. A professional can help you look at your child and your family and assess what might be most at play. Is there a history of trauma that is affecting your child? Do your experiences with your own anxiety influence your child's coping skills? Does your child have a temperamental or biochemical reaction in the body/mind that keeps anxiety cycling? Are there unmet interpersonal needs that prevent your child from feeling safe and secure in the world?
Once a working hypothesis is formulated, you and your child's therapist can create experiential opportunities for your child to challenge their anxiety safely. New behavioral experiments are introduced, for both child and parents, that provide opportunity for different emotional/behavioral outcomes. Success in small ways supports success overall and changes the trajectory from one of chronic stress to one of healthy and happy child/family functioning. A new and more positive feedback loop is born.
Although life has difficult challenges, no child, no parent, and no family should suffer unnecessarily from unrelenting anxiety. Help is available. Please reach out today to schedule your initial parenting consultation. You will be on your way to a more satisfying life for everyone involved.
Some Things Anxious Children Need
Validation of their feelings and bodily sensations of concern
Help with acceptance of what can't be changed
Positive outcome predictions
Accurate information about risks/benefits
Education about the mind/body connection
Energy management (to up-regulate or down-regulate)
Reinforcement of growth mindset and resiliency
Repeated exposure to and practice with challenges
Parents' ability to tolerate their child's discomfort