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  • Writer's pictureShannon Kelly

Helping Your Child or Teen with Anxiety

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

Are you suspecting that your child or teen has an anxiety disorder? The signs and symptoms of anxiety often include avoidance, excessive shyness, constant worry, or somatic complaints. Somatic complaints are when your child or teen experiences stomachaches or headaches due to stress or anxiety. If this is the case it is important to see your child’s doctor to rule out any concerns. Some signs and symptoms are harder to see and may be masked by various learnt coping mechanisms. Anxiety is a very normal emotion that everyone feels. At times, anxiety can be helpful and can serve a protective purpose. Anxiety becomes a concern when it causes distress and impacts your child’s ability to function in some way. This could be at home, in the community, or in the school. For example, if your child or teen is avoiding a situation that makes them feel anxious, this is a coping mechanism they have developed to address the problem. If your child is experiencing anxiety, a professional can help your teen or child develop new coping tools to improve well-being. Your child or teen will learn how to successfully cope with difficult emotions!

When your child or teen is experiencing anxiety, there are various ways they may be coping with their feelings. Often avoidance is a common strategy. Avoidance can be habit forming so it is important to help your child or teen learn to face their fears in a positive and safe manner. Engaging in safety behaviours is also a very common strategy for children and teens with anxiety. This is a coping strategy that works in the short term, however, will not work to effectively cope with the underlying anxiety. With children and teens, you may also see significant distress or tantrums due to underlying anxiety. Often children will lash out or cry as their emotional thermometer is running on high. If you do suspect that your child or teen has anxiety there are ways to support them that will help in the long run. Have patience! It takes time to develop new patterns. Though your child’s or teen’s behaviour can be very concerning or frustrating, it can be helpful to know that your child or teen isn’t acting out on purpose. If the concerns are pervasive, talk to a professional who can help develop a treatment plan that can be shared with all supportive adults. Anxiety can take your child hostage, a step by step treatment plan that your child is involved with can be a very effective approach. At Creative Sky Psychology, a strength-based laddering approach is used to help your child take steps towards ultimate success!

Anxiety can be brief and situational or generalized and long lasting. If it is pervasive and long lasting, your child or teen may have an anxiety disorder. There are several types of Anxiety Disorders. Having a professional evaluate your child will help all supportive adults plan effective intervention. An anxiety disorder (such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety Disorder) means that your child or teen is significantly impacted by anxiety and it has been going on for many months. Everyone feels anxious at times, even children who experience brief anxiety benefit from developing healthy coping strategies. This helps teens and children develop the skills for lifelong emotion regulation success!

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