When Your Child is Anxious
We all strive to provide a safe and satisfying life for our children. We want to protect them, as long as reasonably possible, from the worries of this life. However, some children (adults as well) just seemed prone to be more anxious than others. This can be very discouraging for parents. These children tend to find things to worry about. They often find things that seem outrageous for a child to be concerned with, yet they lose sleep and find these thoughts intrusive and overwhelming.
So what is a parent to do. Initially, avoid going into panic mode. Episodes of anxiety, that go away as quickly as they begin, are not abnormal. We all have struggled with these moments in our lives. However, if a child has developed a pattern of excessive worry and it is beginning to impact his or her ability to function, then intervention is indicated.
Initially, helping a child to think clearly, and providing appropriate reassurance, may be all the help that is needed. Also, aiding them to find healthy diversions, to short circuit troubling thoughts, can be very helpful. Even simple lifestyle habits like a healthy diet and exercise can be useful tools in overcoming anxiety.
If these things are not enough, then professional help may be necessary. Many parents will want to start with their pediatrician. It is useful to have the pediatrician involved early in the process so that possible medical concerns can be ruled out from the start. The pediatrician may suggest seeing a therapist. A therapist can help the family determine the sources of the anxiety problem and suggest appropriate treatments. Typically, treatment will involve a combination of individual and family therapies. Treatment will often focus on controlling troublesome thoughts and managing stresses in a child's life. If response to these interventions is not sufficient , there may be a need to include medical intervention. The pediatrician and/or a psychiatrist would need to be consulted on these occasions.
Throughout all these processes, it is important for parents to be patient, hopeful and encouraging. The ability to model hopefulness and realistic expectations will go a long way though all aspects of treatment.