Anxiety is a treatable mental health condition; however, the National Institute of Mental Health states that 80% of children with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not receiving professional treatment.

All children go through phases and unfortunately, anxiety is a normal part of growing up. While some children may rarely show symptoms of anxiety, others may experience anxiety for prolonged periods of time. And because around one in eight children has an anxiety disorder, it is important to know that your child is not alone in his or her experience.

With the right treatment and support, your child can learn the skills necessary to successfully manage the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Does My Child Have an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety symptoms in children present themselves in several ways including physical signs, emotional signs, as well as behavioral signs.

child at school

Physical signs include:

  • Frequent complaints of headaches or stomachaches without medical reasoning
  • Altered eating habits
  • Only using the bathroom at home
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Shaking or fidgeting
  • Excessive sweating

Emotional signs include:

  • Excessive crying
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Shows anger for no legitimate reason
  • Fear of making even minor mistakes
  • Panic attacks or fear of having panic attacks
  • Exaggerated fears
  • Obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors
  • Worries about future situations
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Easily distracted from playing due to excessive worrying

Behavioral signs include:

  • Constantly asks “what if?”
  • Avoids participating in  class activities
  • Remains when expected to work with others
  • Chooses to be alone during recess
  • Refuses to speak to peers or strangers in public places
  • Avoids social situations
  • Becomes irrationally emotional when separating from parents or loved ones

How Does Counseling Help?

There are several scientifically proven treatment options are available for children with anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches skills and techniques to reduce anxiety in children. At Suffolk Counseling Services, our licensed therapists will help your child to identify and replace negative thinking patterns with positive ones. Your child will also learn to separate realistic from unrealistic thoughts and will be encouraged to practice what is learned in therapy outside of the office. During parent meetings, our therapists can work with you to ensure progress is made at home and in school, providing thoughtful advice on how the entire family can best manage your child’s symptoms.

Reducing Anxiety at Home

There are a variety of techniques you can use to assist your child in managing their anxiety right from your home. Some examples include:

  • Reframing (turning negative thoughts into positive ones)
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Muscle relaxation exercises
  • Using stress reducing items such as a stress ball
  • Having your child write out his or her anxieties