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4 Ways to Manage Anxiety in Children

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Teenager with DepressionAnxiety in children, teens and young adults is a big issue—so big that The Family Institute’s next Circle of Knowledge event focuses on the topic. At this event, Dr. Danielle Black, Director of the Institute’s child and adolescent services, will help parents differentiate between normal worry for our children, teenagers and young adults as they face the pressures of school, sports and socializing, and more severe anxiety symptoms that may be signs of a larger issue. She will also explore how anxiety can be turned into a positive thing that can help your kids become successful.

See below for more information on this event, as well as 4 ways you can help your children manage their anxiety.


 

Be mindful of avoidance.

The most common response to anxiety is some form of avoidance, aimed at either getting relief from anxiety or keeping oneself from experience elevated levels of anxiety in the first place. For example, a child with a dog phobia may panic and run anytime that he sees a dog, rendering him unable to enjoy going to the park or playing at certain friends’ houses.

This avoidance response can leave parents, caretakers and educators feeling confused and stressed, as children refuse to engage in formerly enjoyable activities, from soccer practice to school to birthday parties (depending on the source of their particular form of anxiety).

 

Be mindful of control.

Another common manifestation of anxiety is to exert control over anxiety-inducing situations. For example, a child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may demand that everyone in the home wash their hands excessively, or that they complete the morning routine in a rigid, prescribed fashion. This behavior is aimed at reducing anxiety by increasing the child’s sense of control and making the environment more predictable, but it can cause significant interpersonal stress for children and their families.

 

Offer support, but don’t reinforce or accommodate.

It can be easy for parents, caretakers or educators to accommodate children’s anxiety. Accommodation refers to any change in routine or environment that is made with the specific intention of reducing or avoiding a child’s anxious behaviors. For example, a parent may call the school to say that a child is ill, when in fact the child is anxious about a school presentation and refusing to leave the house. Or a teacher may answer the same “what if…” question repeatedly, despite knowing that the answer is already been provided. These are usually well-intentioned efforts to reduce a child’s anxiety in the short-term. However, accommodation of anxious behaviors reinforces anxiety over time because it signals that the perceived threat is legitimate (i.e., serious enough to warrant a response from the adult) and that the child is not expected to tolerate feelings of anxiety.

 

Empower yourself.

Because some level of anxiety is a totally normal part of the human experience, most children to display anxious behaviors from time to time. Parents, educators and caretakers should consider looking to professional help when anxiety begins interfering with a child’s day to day functioning, by affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and/or their willingness to try new things.

 

The Family Institute’s Child and Adolescent services offers support and effective treatment for anxiety in kids and teens. Visit our website to learn more.

To learn more about Straight A’s & Stressed, our next Circle of Knowledge Event that focuses on children and anxiety, visit our website and see below more information.

 

Straight A’s & Stressed: Navigating childhood, teen and young adult anxiety

Presented by Danielle Black, PhD

Friday, April 10, 2015
10:30 a.m. registration, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. presentation & lunch
Exmoor Country Club, 700 Vine Avenue, Highland Park

$25 per person, space is limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 3, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org

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