Anxiety in Children

Posted on 10th February 2015 | Category: CBT

A recent article in the Huffington Post by Renee Jain looks at the way we can support our children with Five Things You Should Never say to an Anxious Child. The basic premise of this article is very good and in my opinion the advice given here will work in real world situations.

It is always important to maintain a sense of proportion in such situations. It is necessary for parents to always ask themselves if a child’s anxiety is justified or if they are simply troubled by the introduction of a new situation. There is a tendency for many parents in the modern UK to be too worried about their children, with A&E departments full of mothers and fathers who simply want to make sure that their child doesn’t have the latest media scare disease.

Parents can of course take children into supportive situations. Graduated exposure can slowly help them to deal with difficulties, in a similar manner to the way swimming in the shallow pool will one day ready them for deep water. Diversionary tactics can help in these instances, but they can also be too dismissive if you try to tell a child there is nothing to be scared of, when they already feel a sense of danger. Making the situation seem fun however and reframing their fears as excitement or anticipation can work for some individuals conquer such anxiety.

One possible side effect of offering a child too much support is that they will actually start to train the adult in effect to come whenever they are in a difficult situation. In this instance it can be impossible for the child to grow out of their need for support and rely on the advice of others for the rest of their life. It is of course natural for a parent to want to support a child, but there does come a point where the support has to be metered out at the correct levels.

CBT can help a child learn how to use natural resources to calm themselves and seek new perspectives and make choice that are linked to meeting needs and having fun. This can establish a pattern of behaviour that will help the child well into their adult life with making decisions that are based around their emotional needs and abilities rather than out of anxiety.

With adults, CBT can equally help by teaching parents the necessary skills to support their child whilst role modelling more adaptive behaviour for them. It can also give anxious parents the ability to tell when to take their foot off the brake with their children and give them the space to make their own mistakes and deal with difficult

If you would like to learn about how CBT could make a difference to your life and the way you handle the anxieties of your children, then why not make an appointment for a free consultation session where we can discuss the options available to you.