How to Help Your Child When They Have Anxiety Disorders

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Before discussing the dos and don’ts of what to do when we detect that a child is feeling worried, it is crucial that we first comprehend the ideas of fear, anxiety, and anxiety disorders.

There is a vast spectrum of emotions that children encounter, both good and bad ones. The most prevalent negative emotions are shyness, fear, and anxiety.


How can we differentiate between anxiety and fear?

Anxiety is an emotion that arises from an uncertain, anticipatory, or poorly defined threat, whereas fear is an emotion that is brought on by a recognized or understood threat. According to evolutionary theories, the emotion of fear has developed over time to keep any species secure and protected, ultimately ensuring the species’ survival. On the other hand, anxiety shields a species against potential threats.

Anxiety disorders: what are they?

Psychiatric disorders known as anxiety disorders are characterized by a child’s excessive and pathological fear, which is out of proportion to the stressor or challenge the child is facing and causes a great deal of distress and impairment (in biological, social, and academic functioning). 

Which are the most common anxiety problems in children?

Studies show that the most prevalent anxiety disorders among children are

Particular Fear

Fear of Social Situations

Anxiety Disorder in General

Divorce Disorders of Anxiety

Fear of spiders

trauma-related stress disorder

What are the typical reasons why kids get anxious?

Among the frequent reasons why children experience anxiety are

Anxiety disorders in parents or other first-degree relatives may be genetic factors.

Environmental Factors: (abusive parenting practices, overbearing parental control)

Cognitive bias in the negative

academic challenges

worries over one’s body

Peer relationships that are problematic and result in fewer friends

Rivalry between siblings (being treated differently than the other sibling)

Intimacy with parents lacking (neglect and coldness from parents) 

How can parents support their kids in managing the stress of exams?

Here are some crucial things for parents and other adults to remember when they see signs of anxiety in their kids.

What to Do

It is imperative to seek professional assistance for anxiety intervention, which may involve pharmaceutical and psychotherapy interventions if the kid meets the criteria for an anxiety condition.

Promoting gradual exposure to the anxiety-inducing stimuli as an alternative to avoidance As this would lead to the habituation of anxiety rather than the incubation of anxiety, parents and other relevant adults must assist children in understanding that anxiety can only be overcome if they can help them face the anxiety-provoking stimuli gradually, in a graduated and hierarchical manner. 

Talking to the child about the different kinds of emotions that one might feel, both good and bad, and assisting them in naming and recognizing the feeling of dread or worry

Assisting the youngster in recognizing the different bodily reactions that anxiety causes (such as elevated heart rate, perspiration on the palms of the hands, trouble breathing, and trembling)

teaching the young person basic grounding skills

encouraging the youngster to pick up some fundamental breathing exercises (box breathing)

Rewarding the child for any effort made, or providing positive reinforcement when the child tries to confront some of the anxiety triggers.

assisting kids in making the connection between emotions, thoughts, feelings, and bodily reactions.

Since most of a child’s learning comes from seeing parents and other significant adults, we should set an example for them and learn to control our own anxieties when we are around them.

What to Avoid

Family accommodation is the term used to describe any action involving family members or significant others that either helps avoidance or involves rituals connected to anxiety symptoms. This keeps the person from completely feeling the symptoms of anxiety and causes the symptoms to remain there. Family housing has a long-term detrimental influence on treatment results. 

forcing the child to confront their anxiety-inducing stimuli all at once, without teaching them relaxing strategies (systematic desensitization), as this might cause flooding and demotivate them to confront their anxieties in the first place.

Acknowledging a child’s nervous reaction to a trigger and avoiding comments along the lines of “This is absurd.” This is not a huge deal. “It’s all in your head!,” “Stop exaggerating it!” and “If you don’t think about it, it will go away!” Say something like, “I know and understand that you are uncomfortable right now.” instead. I am available if you need me; I understand that these things frighten you. Most likely, the worrying portion of the brain is taking over.

Research has indicated a connection between children’s worry and parental anxiety. Consequently, parents must receive some kind of treatment for their anxiety as untreated anxiety can lead a parent to choose a parenting style that is marked by indulgence, neglect, or punishment—all of which are strongly associated with anxiety in children. Children may also experience anxiety if they experience a high level of parental control or a lack of warmth from their parents. Therefore, to learn how to parent in a way that would lessen their children’s anxiety, parents must participate in parent-management training.

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