By Juan Santos, M.S., CRC, LPCA
Anxiety symptoms are very common among children and teenagers. From the day your child enters school up until high school (and for some even through college). There are many challenges that can contribute to anxiety symptoms:
Personal goals and aspirations
Daily interaction with other students
You can ask your child to take a simple anxiety survey here.
A study from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) showed that 1 in 8 children suffer from anxiety. As a parent, there are numerous way to show support to your child who has anxiety.
1. Focus on the “POSITIVES”
Anxiety is often associated with “negative racing thoughts or self-criticism.“ For example, your child may make statements such as, ” I am going to fail this test and get an F” or “no one likes me because I’m not athletic.“
As a parent, you should be aware that your anxious child may be experiencing these thoughts and symptoms. Provide your child with supportive notions by complementing them on a daily basis. Focus on their positive behaviors and gestures, and recognize positive improvements or even positive acts.
2. Encourage Expression
Motivate and support your child to verbalize their feelings in a healthy and safe manner. Encourage your child to talk about:
Personal negative thoughts
Problems at school
The more you encourage your child to share these thoughts and open up to you, they will begin feeling comfortable communicating with you. A great place to start is by asking, “How was school today?” If your child responds “fine,” follow up with more details in an open ended question format. “Fine, that sounds great! What made today a fine day?”
3. Work through problems together
Your child might be dealing with challenges at school. Maybe they are dealing with peer pressure or struggling to make friends due to self-criticism. Communicate with them in order to build an understanding of what is going on. Role play through potential scenarios. Offer your recommendations. Offer external support: counseling or school mentors. Ask questions. Overall, let your child know that you are available, and you will listen without judgement.
4. Be willing to seek help
If you feel that you are not able to support your child, know that asking for help is a true form of support. You are supporting your child by seeking outside support. Counseling can provide your child with education and guidance on their anxiety while also supporting you, the parent, in learning strategies that you can implement at home. These strategies will allow you to help your child manage their anxiety.
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