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How To Deal With Children's Anxiety

Mar 11, 2008
Approximately 5 to 20% of all children suffer from at least one form of anxiety disorder. This refers to an overwhelming sense of fear or worry that is out of proportion to the individual's situation, and often causes an adverse effect on that person's life. Children are just as susceptible, if not more so, than adults in being diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Out of the many types of anxiety disorder, children are most likely to suffer from the following five: separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder and specific phobia.

Although there is insufficient research on medical treatments for children anxiety disorders, current research suggests that psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological treatments play a role. Psychopharmacological treatments involve the use of antidepressants, although it has many severe and harmful side effects. Medication is usually recommended in conjunction with therapy, or psychosocial treatments.

It is important to be able to identify if your child is suffering from anxiety disorders, and how to go about dealing with it in order to help your child. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it is highly likely to develop into other anxiety disorders in adulthood, and these children face the same risks as those suffering from depression. If your child has been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, as a parent you have a huge role to play in supporting your child emotionally, as well as in providing necessary guidance.

It is normal for children to experience fears as they face life and grow up, but some children may face greater difficulties coping with their fears. If you child constantly feels worried or frightened beyond what the situation would indicate, or displays physical symptoms of headaches and muscle tension, you should look closer into the issue and not dismiss it out of hand. This could be the critical first step in identifying that your child has a problem, and then to go on seeking adequate help and support for your child to cope.

You should do your best to encourage your child to take part in activities independently, and avoid overreacting to their physical symptoms as it emphasizes to them that they are "abnormal". Where you are aware that your child may face new or challenging situations, describe the situation to them in detail and if possible conduct visualization and role playing exercises to help familiarize your child and allay fears.

If you are in a single child family, let your child pick out a special soft toy companion so that they can build confidence without having to worry about being alone. Establish clear household rules and routines, and guide your child firmly with just punishments and rewards. This will help them establish a sense of security, and they will know what to expect.

Whilst it may be tempting to hide the nature of anxiety disorders from your child, it pays to inform your child about their conditions. Do not keep them out of the loop regarding big decisions or events happening in the family, such as a new job, or a house moving. Always make an effort to be honest and objective about any obstacles or questions that your child has for you, as avoiding the topic or skirting the issue will only cause your child's fear to increase.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to help your child learn to deal with the root of the problem causing them anxiety as they are reluctant or afraid of speaking about it. Help your child overcome this by proposing alternative means of communications, such as through a picture, or writing a short story. You should also be alert to any hints of fear that your child shows, as it may be an indication of what the true cause of the problem is. A fear of the dark could in actuality be a fear of being abandoned or left alone due to some event occurring previously.

Helping your child deal with his anxiety disorder can be a challenging process, but do not feel alone as many families are facing the same problem. If you suspect your child could be suffering from anxiety disorder, take steps to find out more about it and seek professional help for your child.
About the Author
Greg Frost is a leading innovator in the field treating anxiety attacks and the director of http://www.AttackAnxiety.org which specializes providing a whole range of Anxiety Treatment topics to assist you in your life.
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