Children and Anxiety
What is normal?
Common worries vary by age:
Toddlers: worry about separation from parents/caregivers
Preschoolers: worry about the dark and monsters
Elementary Schoolers: worry about taking tests, topics on the news, and movies
Teenagers: worry about friendships and their appearance
Worries are a problem when they:
1) Stick around
2) Are larger than one would expect
3) Make your child unhappy and/or cause problems in other areas of their life
-Is my child worrying frequently?
-Are they able to make new friends?
-Does my child’s anxiety cause problems at school?
-Is my child able to be independent, despite their anxiety?
-Can my child enjoy time with friends and extracurricular activities?
-Is their anxiety impacting their confidence?
Red flags to lookout for:
Frequently expects bad things to happen
Worries a lot
Asks questions (or asks for reassurance) frequently
Repeats actions in order to feel better (e.g. washes hands over and over)
Extreme shyness or avoidance of social situations
Extreme discomfort when the center of attention
Upset when has to be away from parents or loved ones
May refuse to go to sleep
Frequent school nurse/guidance visits
Panics when has to be around a feared item or situation (e.g. shots)
Frequent stomachaches or headaches without a medical cause
How to help my child:
Try to understand your child’s perspective
Avoid criticizing your child for their fears
Be consistent with expectations at home
Model brave choices
Help your child get adequate sleep
Encourage your child to face their fears
Avoid singling out your child in front of others for their worries
Keep expectations realistic
Set limits with regards to electronics use and social media use
Communicate with your child’s therapist
Can anxiety disorders be prevented?
New research suggests that anxiety disorders may be prevented in high risk children.
Feel free to call if you are interested in anxiety prevention for your child.
What will happen when I call?
When you call, you will speak to a therapist about your concerns. They will ask questions about your child’s symptoms and assign you to a therapist who is the best fit for your child or adolescent’s needs. The therapist will then meet with your family to gather information about symptoms. If you have questions about how to talk to your child about the appointment, you are encouraged to ask your therapist these.
What if my child does not want to come to therapy?
Kids with anxiety are often scared of new experiences; for some kids this includes seeing a therapist. This is okay and does not mean your child will not benefit from therapy! Too often parents wait until their child is ready and miss out on opportunities to help their child learn to cope. If your child is scared or reluctant, let the therapist know so that they can help you develop a plan for treating your child. There are many paths to treatment success!
Help! My child has been diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS:
Know that treatment is available. Children and adolescents with PANDAS benefit from cognitive behavioral treatment of their symptoms. We have clinicians who are experienced in treating children with PANS/PANDAS.
Child anxiety prevention
Consultation services to therapists and school counselors
Presentations for community groups