Many of the children I see of late are suffering from anxiety. Many more of their parents are confused as to why they’re anxious. That’s the thing about anxiety – there is no definite reason as to why someone has anxiety. It can be triggered by a big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations – for example, a death in the family, a divorce, bullying.
Anxiety is very common. Some facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 4.4 million children aged 3-17 have diagnosed anxiety. That leaves us to think that there are so many more that go untreated. Anxiety is a normal part of childhood and every child goes through phases. A phase is temporary and generally harmless. A more serious case of anxiety, a child will experience fear, nervousness, shyness and may even start to avoid places and activities.
In treating anxiety, there are a variety of ways a child can learn to cope with their anxiety. There of course are hundreds of coping skills a child can utilize, and a trained mental health professional can guide them through the process. Another effective way to treat anxiety in children, adolescents and adults is by utilizing Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive therapy examines how negative thoughts (cognitions) contribute to anxiety. Behavior therapy examines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety. CBT functions on the premise that our thoughts affect how we feel. Essentially, it is not the situation (not the bullying or the divorce or the death in the family) that affects how we feel, but our perception of the situation.
Taking your child to a child therapist, they will help your child make a better connection between their thoughts and emotions through play and other therapeutic games. Your child will be able to recognize how they can be in better control of their anxiety.
By: Stephonia Llewellyn, LMHC