Does Your Child Seem Consumed By Worry?
Perhaps you know what’s fueling your child’s distress. There may have been a major shift or upset that threw everything into a tailspin. For example, you may have recently returned to school or work. There may be a new sibling, spouse, school or house? Perhaps your family recently lost a loved one. Maybe you thought your child would adjust by now, but they’re still clearly struggling.
It’s deeply troubling when your child seems persistently agitated, nervous or down. You may have tried everything you can, but nothing seems to help. If this is the case, there may be a larger issue at play, like anxiety.
Common signs of anxiety in children include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body tension
- Panic attacks
- Excessive crying
- Clinginess and difficulty separating from you
- Avoiding unfamiliar situations
- Agitation and irritability
- Isolating and difficulty socializing
- Negative thinking
- Intrusive and obsessive thoughts
- Trouble concentrating
- Stomach aches
At this point, you may be concerned for you and your child’s wellbeing. As problems persist, you may worry that you’ve fallen short as a parent. Now, you may desperately want to help them understand that everything is going to be okay.
Many Children Experience Anxiety
If your child seems overstressed or on edge, they are not alone. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, one in eight children experience significant anxiety.
In part, because children are faced with anxiety provoking circumstances all the time. You may have heard your child voice concerns like, “What will happen when I try to make a new friend?” “Will my 3rd grade teacher be as nice as my 2nd grade teacher?” These are really common worries for children to have. However, when worries persist, they can limit your child from enjoying everyday activities, like going to school, doing homework, going to bed, making friends and more.
For some children, heredity plays a role. If you have a family history of anxiety, your child is at higher risk for developing anxiety. For these children, it’s very helpful to gain knowledge and tools early on.
Sometimes, there are circumstances in the family environment that put a lot of strain on kids. Parental arguments or marital tensions can increase fears and insecurities in children. Children naturally experience worries and fears when parents are separating, divorcing or introducing new members into the family.
Alternatively, some children experience a major life event or traumatic situation that disrupts their sense of security about the world. If there has been a death of a loved one, assault, a move or accident, it’s not uncommon for children to develop ongoing fears.
The good news is child anxiety treatment can help. With the help of a child psychologist or therapist, you can provide you child with the insight and skills needed to effectively manage distress, now and down the road.
Child Anxiety Treatment Can Help Your Child Thrive
Child anxiety is highly treatable. Imagine your child embracing experiences they previously would have shied away from. Envision yourself being able to stand back and watch them thrive as opposed to constant reassuring. There are many evidence based treatments available to address a variety of issues, from general stress to overcoming an unfortunate life event. With your support and our expert guidance, children can come to understand their emotions and express them in empowering ways.
Child counseling sessions begin with an evaluation that lasts 1.5-2 hours. We use this time to gain a thorough understanding of the issues bringing you here. This session is divided into a few parts. In the beginning, we meet with you and your child together. Then, we meet with you and your child individually, which allows you both to privately voice concerns. Then, we come together to develop a unique plan for your child’s treatment.
Depending on the specific source of your child’s anxiety and needs of your family, sessions may unfold in a few different ways.
- For our youngest clients, we typically work via play therapy. Play therapy allows children to express feelings they may be hesitant or unable voice in words. Sessions with youngsters are typically combined with family sessions. These allow you, as the parent, to develop strategies to encourage your child when their worry is heightened.
- With elementary- aged children, sessions typically begin with education. You and your child can expect to receive an overview of how anxiety affects emotions, physical sensations and thinking. We’re all hardwired to respond to scary situations in various ways. Some people experience a racing heart and others argumentative, defensive behavior. Together, we can look at what’s triggering your child’s anxiety and develop specific strategies to manage unwanted stress. As the parent, you can expect to develop the tools needed to support your child through these struggles. With the help of a qualified child psychologist or therapist, we can create a plan toward relief, empowerment and celebrating your child’s blossoming bravery along the way.
- For specific information on our services for children who have experienced child sexual abuse, please click here.
- For more information about treating children with anxiety related to food allergies, click here.
At Brave Minds, we are strength based, meaning we look carefully at what your child can accomplish and immediately start building those abilities. We not only provide skills to overcome obstacles, but we celebrate the ways your child challenges and conquers anxiety. We also set and achieve goals, so your child feels good about their progress, which builds self-esteem. The valuable skills learned in child counseling can not only help your child be successful now, but can equip them to manage life’s stressors down the road.
You still may have questions or concerns about child anxiety therapy…
My child doesn’t want to come to therapy.
If your child is experiencing anxiety, they may be hesitant to meet a new person to discuss problems. Ease these concerns by assuring them that speaking with a child therapist is like a talking doctor (no shots) or a teacher. You can point out areas they wish were better, like feeling more comfortable with friends, getting along better with mom and dad or not feeling so worried. Sometimes, it helps to blame it on yourself, and tell your child you need help being the best parent you can be.
I feel like I’ve failed as a parent.
If you need additional support navigating unique parental challenges, you’re not alone, and you’re not a bad parent. On the contrary, reaching out for the help you need is a sign that you’re doing all you can to support your child!
If your child is struggling with anxiety, in most cases the usual parenting techniques don’t help. And, reassuring an anxious child or allowing them to bypass scary events can worsen their sense of unease. It’s important to understand how anxiety works in your child’s life and make a strategic plan forward.
My spouse doesn’t believe child anxiety treatment will help.
It’s not unusual for one parent to be skeptical about the therapy process. With that being said, therapy is most successful when everyone is supportive. The skills learned here are not only valuable for your child’s current and future success, but can help you both navigate parental challenges more fluidly. Parents who were initially skeptical are often pleased to see the positive changes their child experiences
Your Child Can Feel Confident
If you’re interested in working with a child anxiety therapist in Scotch Plains, NJ, please call (908) 242-3634 or use the contact form for a free phone consultation. We are happy to answer any questions you have about how child counseling can address your needs.