What Does Anxiety Look Like in Children?

Anxiety and worry are big feelings for children and teens to manage. With children and teens, anxiety can manifest itself in crying, avoidance, anger, or acting out behaviors. As a parent, you can start to feel helpless with knowing how to support your child with feeling less worried and scared.

Anxiety Treatment for Children

Wellspring’s therapists all utilize Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help children identify and challenge negative thinking patterns and irrational beliefs that increase anxiety. They are also given coping tools for recognizing and dealing with their emotions. For example, your child might be taught how to use belly breathing to remain calm before a test. Additionally, for teens, mindfulness strategies may be taught to help your teen learn useful ways to avoid getting caught up in the anxious thoughts that can take over their minds.

Once your child has learned some coping tools, we may use exposure training to help them face the things they fear. Exposure therapy encourages your child to confront their fears in a safe, controlled environment. Through repeated exposures to the feared object or situation, either in their imagination or in reality, they gain a greater sense of control. As your child faces their fears through safe practice, their anxiety slowly diminishes. For example, a child with a fear of dogs may be asked to begin spending time with a dog in the office so that they can acclimate to being with dogs and recognize that they can survive the experience without anything bad happening. Through structured practice, children learn new ways of handling their anxiety to make them feel calmer and happier and able to function better at home, at school and with peers.

In addition to working individually with your child, your anxiety therapist will provide opportunities for regular parent meetings to give you the skills and tools needed to help you support your child. Our intention is to provide a collaborative and family-oriented approach to anxiety treatment to allow everyone to feel supported through the therapeutic process and ensure relief from anxious feelings is seen as quickly as possible.

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