Seeing your child struggle with anxiety is such a helpless feeling.
Your daughter is paralyzed with fear about what others may think of her, and nothing that you say can comfort her. Your son freezes on homework and tests, feeling that everything must be perfect, and you feel a twinge of guilt, wondering if you’ve passed these anxious thoughts down to him. Perhaps your daughter is afraid to use the restroom in public, is terrified of messing up in her soccer game, or your son can’t bring himself to eat in front of others.
Sunday night comes and they are preoccupied with the thought of the impending school week. No matter what approach you take, no matter how rational you are with them, they can’t shake the feeling of dread that comes with going to school on Monday. Rather than seeing the world through the eyes of excitement and joy, your child sees it through a lens of worry and uncertainty.
You wish you could just find the right words to make it all better, and want to get your happy little boy or girl back.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
The examples above are some of the many ways that an anxiety disorder can manifest itself. In a general sense, an anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and often irrational worry, nervousness, stress, and apprehension. While these are emotions that we all struggle with from time to time, a person with an anxiety disorder can be completely consumed by them, making it difficult to function in daily life.
While the child may be the person who is suffering from anxiety, the impact of that has a ripple effect on the entire family. It is not uncommon for parents to grow increasingly frustrated with these anxious behaviors, which can further alienate the child and exacerbate their symptoms, creating a cycle that feeds on itself and begins to take over the whole family.
Finding a Solution
By coming here, you have already taken an important first step in finding a solution for your child’s anxiety. They do not have to be caught in a perpetual cycle of worry, distress, and isolation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a thoroughly researched and empirically supported anxiety treatment for children that can help to provide the relief that your child craves, and the peace of mind that you seek.
An anxiety disorder diagnosis can often be difficult news for a parent to receive, and the last thing that we want is for our child to be labeled with something that might follow them for years to come. As a parent, I encourage you to view it as something that can shed light on your child’s struggles. Quite often, a diagnosis will provide the framework for a parent to understand their child’s behaviors in a way that they hadn’t considered before, and it allows them to participate in their child’s healing.
The parent’s role is such an integral part of anxiety treatment for children that it is essential for you to feel empowered to understand and participate in the therapeutic process.
Childhood Anxiety Often Goes Untreated
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 12 teenagers between the ages of 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, and the symptoms usually begin presenting themselves around the age of 6. Sadly, only 18% of these kids receive the services that they need. (link) Anxiety treatment for children is readily available, and grossly underutilized.
Therapy is expensive, and I’m worried about the cost.
Early intervention can prevent a great deal of anxiety, which has the obvious and important benefit of improving their well-being, but it also reduces future expenses that are associated with their mental health. It’s a win-win situation, where your child is happier and healthier, and you save money in the long term. Consider it an investment in your child’s health and well-being rather than an expense.
How do I know if my child actually needs anxiety treatment?
No one can answer this question better than you can, but I can tell you from experience that you’re here and reading this for a reason…it’s become a problem. If your child’s anxiety has become a disruptive force in their life and yours, it is probably time to seek help. You wouldn’t stay at home and do nothing while they had a physical ailment that could be helped with a visit to a physician, so why would you do that with their mental health? Sure, they might just have a cold that will pass in a couple of days, but you still take them to the doctor, right?
CBT is a solution based anxiety treatment for children that provides coping skills that your son or daughter can use long after the conclusion of therapy, in situations that they will face on a daily basis. You want your child to thrive in the real world, not just survive, and CBT serves the purpose of enabling them to do exactly that.
I do not want my son/daughter to take medication. Do you prescribe meds?
As a clinical psychologist, I do not prescribe medication. If I feel that your child could benefit from medication, we would certainly discuss this option and I may recommend a medical professional that could prescribe medication, but CBT is an anxiety treatment for children that utilizes talk therapy.
How effective is CBT as an anxiety treatment for children?
In my time as a therapist at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, at UC-Davis Medical Center, and in my own practice, I have used CBT to improve the lives of hundreds of children and families. There are no secret recipes, no short cuts, and no magic wands. I require you to WORK with your child on their newfound skills outside of my office to defeat their anxiety. We are equal partners in your child’s healing. There is a ton of research to support the effectiveness of CBT as an anxiety treatment for children, and I encourage you to educate yourself on the topic as much as you can.
You have already taken an important step by seeking the help that your child needs. Now take the next one. Anxiety treatment for children involves mom and/or dad as much as it involves your son or daughter, so I encourage you to call me at (424) 262-2014 for a free, 15 minute consultation or sign up for our Anxiety Newsletter to discuss what you and your child are going through. Let’s see if we can get your happy little boy or girl back.