Are You Worried That Your Child Is Experiencing Excessive Anxiety?
Does your child act out emotionally, worry excessively, have angry outbursts, become easily set off or exhibit bigger than normal reactions? Have you noticed physical symptoms, such as ongoing stomach or headaches, sleep disturbances, physical ticks, or persistent hair teasing or nail biting? Have your child’s actions caused problems at home or school? Are you concerned that his or her behavior may not be age-appropriate or normal? Have you felt helpless, as you’ve tried to help calm your child’s distress? Do you often feel guilt, shame or embarrassed by your child’s behavior? Do you think that everyone’s lives would be much easier if you could just figure out how to help your child relax?
Children with anxiety can be challenging to help without the right tools or approach. Their behavior can cause significant problems at school and at home. You may notice them losing friends or disrupting family dynamics. Sometimes parents with highly anxious children stop taking their child into public or committing to social events – afraid of how their child might feel or react in a social situation. If your child is highly anxious, you may be blaming yourself or feel at your wit’s end. Your life may be consumed by constantly having to put out fires or by tiptoeing around your child, afraid of setting him or her off.
Many Families Are Affected By A Highly Anxious Child
Childhood anxiety is a very common issue. It affects numerous children and their families. In general, most of us are very busy, highly stressed and at least slightly anxious – and kids are no exception. Kids experience pressure at school, pressure from friends and, yes, pressure from mom and dad, too. It’s a normal part of our culture to strive to be the best. And, if you’re feeling helpless, like you’ve done something wrong or feel guilty about putting your child through a major transition – like divorce or a big move – that’s normal, too. Take a deep breath because you likely haven’t done anything wrong. The mere fact that you are reading this demonstrates that you are concerned for you child and want to help him or her feel better.
Therapy Can Help Your Child and You
The good news is that help is available. Therapy has been shown to be extremely effective in helping kids and their parents through times of high anxiety. Childhood anxiety is treatable. The process is workable. And, with the help of a good therapist, most kids can work through their anxious feelings and behaviors, often without medication.
A highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can work with both you and your child to get to the root of what’s causing your child’s anxiety and help everyone learn more effective coping skills. Like adults, kids go through experiences and develop memories that carry a high emotional charge. Your therapist can help your child understand those challenging experiences and move through them. With help, your child can learn how to recognize anxious feelings and develop skills to stay calm and relax.
Your BPS therapist is there to help support and teach you, too. With guidance, you can learn new ways to relate with your child and handle difficult situations. With your therapist, you’ll strategize real world, concrete ways to work through the issues that keep arising. You’ll also learn tools to keep yourself more relaxed – kids pick up on our stresses – and some easy-to-apply tips to help everyone in your family feel and function in healthier and happier ways.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I’m afraid that if I seek out therapy I’ll be told that my child needs to be put on medication.
If your child is experiencing a biologically based issue, it is important for you to know and address it. Your BPS therapist can help determine if your child’s anxious behavior is within the normal range. If not, seeking a medication evaluation may be recommended. BPS’ supportive and knowledgeable staff will walk you and your child through the process, if needed. If medication is recommended, it’s important to note that it has been very effective in helping to mitigate the effects of an underlying biological problem. Many children taking medication have experienced very positive results.
In most cases, however, children suffering from anxiety can be helped with an effective psychotherapy approach without the need for medication.
I think that therapy is a good idea, but I’m not sure that I can afford it.
This is your child’s life and wellbeing. Addressing your child’s anxiety now may prevent a host of problems from occurring as he or she enters new developmental stages, like adolescence. Investing in their emotional health now may not only address the issue, but also keep the symptoms from getting worse and interfering with their emotional development.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with childhood anxiety issues or who they or their child couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced in children’s anxiety issues and whose personality is a good match for you and your child. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to your child, yourself and your family may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine everyone in your home feeling and functioning better on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find a resource to help offset cost.
I’m concerned about the stigma that therapy carries. I don’t want my child to begin thinking that something is wrong with him or her.
If your child is experiencing anxiety symptoms that are causing difficulties at home or at school, chances are that he or she already feels that they are the problem. They may also have begun drawing negative attention and feedback. It is important that something be done to change their self-concept. A primary goal of therapy is self-esteem building. Rather than making your child feel worse, therapy can actually help develop more confidence and a stronger sense of self. Your BPS therapist can help your child understand and positively embrace their role in the family, at school and with friends. With help, your child can feel better about his or herself, learn to relax, and engage with others in more healthy and productive ways.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your child’s specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you, your child and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your child with a therapist who has expertise working with children and anxiety issues.