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Childhood Anxiety Treatment

Childhood Anxiety Treatment

Is Anxiety Disrupting The Way Your Child Lives Their Life?

Does your child struggle to maintain friendships and relationships, or even function academically at school? Are constant worries making them lonely, depressed, and avoidant? Do they neglect simple daily activities such as hygiene, mealtimes, and sleeping routines?

Perhaps they are experiencing frequent meltdowns and tantrums that leave you uncertain about how to respond to the situation. Maybe they feel stuck in a loop of procrastination or perfectionism which only amplifies their anxious thoughts. Or they may no longer seem filled with life as they once were because anxiety and OCD cause them to feel sad and hopeless.

Children With Anxiety Experience Different Symptoms

Your child may be experiencing various physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, trouble breathing, heart racing, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and a poor appetite. Perhaps they also have doubts and insecurities that contribute to rumination, accommodation, and the need for constant reassurance. They may ask you repetitive questions daily, be afraid to separate from you, sleep alone, or even attend school.

You just want your child to feel relaxed, happy, and free from anxiety, but right now, you feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Fortunately, with your cooperation and the right help, your child can learn how to be calm, and more focused on the present. Treatment at the OCD & Anxiety Center can help your child learn to handle their symptoms in a healthy way.

Though Anxiety Is Common, It Does Not Need To Control Or Define Your Child’s Life

Anxiety disorders are the most commonly occurring mental health conditions in childhood. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that anxiety disorders are experienced by one in eight children.1

The truth is that society—including schools and, sometimes, parents and guardians—has made it difficult for children to just be children. With various external pressures and expectations placed on them (some earlier than others), many young people develop OCD or anxious tendencies.

Childhood Anxiety And OCD Can Begin From Within The Home

A parenting style and/or parental modeling of anxious behaviors can create adverse life experiences for children and the perception of having little control in their lives. Critical or Controlling parenting styles, for instance, reinforce anxious thoughts and behaviors by making children feel fearful, self-critical, and distant in relationships.

Genetics and home environment can also be major contributors to the development of anxiety and OCD. Children with relatives who struggle with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder themselves, especially if it is a first-degree relative living in the same household.

Sometimes, anxiety and OCD can be organic, or related to issues in the brain. From time to time, we don’t know what triggers anxiety. It isn’t unheard of that there may not be any specific reason for anxiety.

The right kind of counseling, however, helps to identify the root of the anxiety and provides your child with a caring therapist who can offer the right tools for relieving their symptoms.

Anxiety Treatment Can Lead To A Happy, Worry-Free Childhood

You made the right decision in choosing therapy for your child. Experiencing anxiety and OCD at an early age can be very challenging, especially if the symptoms are left untreated.

In therapy, you and your child can gain better insight into what triggers their anxiety and how to change their perceptions and responses. The goal is to help your child learn to manage anxiety symptoms and enhance how they function in school, at home, or in social engagements.

What To Expect From Childhood Anxiety Treatment Sessions

Our anxiety and OCD treatment sessions are focused on helping not only your child but you too. We aim to coach you as parents, as best as possible, on how to respond to your child’s anxiety—what to say, what not to say, when to push, and how to set up their environment so that you are not accidently reinforcing anxiety and OCD. Sometimes, children are resistant to treatment, and these coaching sessions can give you specific strategies for helping them engage.

During sessions with your child, we identify stuck thoughts (such as catastrophic thinking) and behaviors that maintain anxiety and OCD. Then, we work to identify how these thoughts and behaviors affect your child and practice changing these thoughts  and behaviors into healthier, more empowering ones.

Childhood Anxiety Treatment Methods

The most common approaches we use in anxiety treatment for kids are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

CBT and ERP are the most effective, evidence-based approaches for treating anxiety. These approaches are very structured, goal oriented, and skills-based. You will find that sessions often build on each other, and your child will be left with a toolbox for dealing with their anxiety or OCD.

CBT for childhood anxiety helps to target harmful thoughts that are irrational. One of the skills your child will learn—cognitive restructuring—is meant to help them counter anxious thinking patterns to make them more balanced and less likely to worsen anxiety. This approach also enhances their ability to think constructively and to approach their anxiety triggers, rather than avoiding them.

ERP (a type of CBT) involves facing fears gradually, repeatedly, and for a prolonged amount of time to help your child reduce or eliminate a fear response to a specific stimulus. In turn, the anxiety subsides too. Response prevention is a crucial strategy we use to teach them how to deal with fearful circumstances without avoiding them or acting in ways that would prolong their anxiety.

DBT (a specialized type of CBT) teaches your child skills for managing and regulating emotions. It is effective in helping them learn how to tolerate distress.

ACT (yet another type of CBT) can help your child identify and disengage from anxious thoughts by labeling these thoughts without fear of judgment. It also teaches them how to remain present and focused. Mindfulness Training is a skill that we incorporate in ACT.

Our ultimate goal is to help your child feel relief from their anxiety and OCD symptoms by enhancing self-awareness and teaching them skills they can use whenever they feel triggered. Child anxiety is treatable, and treatment is effective. Your child can learn to manage their anxiety and no longer be limited by their fears.

Perhaps You Are Considering Childhood Anxiety Treatment But Still Have Some Concerns…

We don't have the time or money.

This kind of therapy is time limited, structured, and goal oriented. You can get a lot out of a short amount of time and fewer sessions versus spending years in therapy. So while you are investing time and money, imagine how much time and money you can regain if anxiety would no longer control your child's life.

My child does not want to participate or is resistant to therapy. I can't get them to attend the appointment.

Many of the children that we see do not want to engage in therapy. We can reduce OCD and anxiety drastically by just meeting with you, the parents. This approach is called Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE). Through this program, we educate you on how to effectively respond to your child’s anxiety or OCD, how to set up the environment so that you are not accidentally reinforcing anxiety, how to help your child meet expectations, and how to respond to meltdowns, tantrum behavior, or any anxiety-related behavior.

We can also work with you to help your child engage in therapy. There are certain strategies and skills that work well.

My child has been in therapy, and it didn’t help. How is this different?

We implement a very structured, goal-oriented approach to therapy in which the goal is to teach skills for managing anxiety. It is very skills based and will include practice sessions. Each session builds on the next so there is less "talk therapy" and more doing. We practice the skills with you and your child and teach you how to incorporate the practice at home. The goal is to provide a toolbox for managing anxiety so that you have the skills whenever anxiety manifests.

We can also vary the intensity and frequency of treatment so your child receives enough support to be successful.  We can also leave the office and do therapy in the environment where anxiety happens as needed.

Your Child Can Learn To Live A Happy, Worry-Free Life

If constant anxiety and OCD are preventing your child from enjoying their childhood the way they were meant to, treatment with The OCD & Anxiety Center offers you and your child the right tools to manage and heal from anxiety. To address further concerns or schedule an appointment, please call us at (630) 522-3124 or email us at info@theocdandanxietycenter.com.