Anxiety can be a normal part of growing up. All children experience anxiety at times and it’s normal to experience occasional worries and fears. In fact, anxiety motivates children to study for a big exam and helps keep them safe when crossing the street. It can be difficult for a parent to watch a child struggle, and harder still to know when help is needed. The difference between a healthy level of worry and what might indicate an anxiety disorder is how severe the worry is, how much it impacts daily life, and the degree to which it prevents a child from doing normal, healthy things. For example, separation anxiety is normal in early childhood, but might become problematic if the fear and anxiety keeps a child from participating in age-appropriate activities, like attending first grade or playing at a friend’s birthday party. Similarly, if a child cannot sleep at night or is not eating because of worry, it might be time to ask for help. Caregivers know their child best. They are often the first to notice when typical behaviors or routines change. There are also times when others, like teachers or coaches, identify that something might be wrong.
Children learn skills in managing stress and worry from adults and caregivers, and often having a worry or mild anxiety can be a learning experience that teaches them how to use coping skills. It becomes problematic when the worry interferes with daily functioning.
It Is A Good Idea To Contact A Professional If A Child Is Experiencing Any Of The Following:
- Sudden changes in behavior or acting out behaviors
- Significant changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Avoidance of previously enjoyed activities, places, or people
- Vague physical sickness or severe tantrums in response to a specific situation, place, object, or animal
- Selective mutism or refusing to speak to others except close family
- Intense worry that seems irrational or unwarranted
- Obsessive and compulsive behaviors like washing hands or completing rituals
- Excessive reassurance seeking or asking the same questions repeatedly
- Anxiety about everyday stresses, like schoolwork or sports that seems excessive or persistent and interferes with day-to-day life
- Irritability, persistent sadness, or frequent tearfulness
- Severe anxiety or worry about situations that might cause humiliation – like speaking in class, ordering food at a restaurant, shopping in stores, going to school, making a phone call, etc.
- Exposure to a traumatic situation
Fortunately, childhood anxiety disorders are very treatable with the right type of therapy. Often, getting help and support for anxiety at a young age can help prevent high levels of anxiety from worsening, and might even prevent larger problems down the road. Parents with concerns should talk to their primary care doctor or contact a child psychologist at Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services to schedule a consultation.
Though anxiety disorders are among the most treatable behavioral health disorders, only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment. Parents often come to us feeling overwhelmed and discouraged after trying other techniques for managing anxiety with little success. Our specialized focus on childhood anxiety allows us to stay up to date on the latest research and implement the most effective evidence based treatment interventions. Our childhood anxiety specialists work collaboratively with children and families to develop an individualized treatment plan to empower children to effectively manage their anxiety.
Pediatric Anxiety Treatment At Austin Anxiety And Behavioral Health Services
If your child is experiencing anxiety call Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services at (512) 246-7225 or email us at [email protected] to schedule an appointment with one of our child and adolescent anxiety specialists. We are currently accepting new patients at our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices.