Child Anxiety Treatment: Essential

Child Anxiety Treatment | Inhibited Child Benefits When Anxiety Is Managed & Easier To Fulfil Potential

Child anxiety treatment: How it develops, importance, prevention, tips to parents, strategies to manage, medical & non-medical

Child anxiety treatment: When a child is born she or he confronts the world full of stimuli that impinge on its senses. A stimulus is a cue –  like seeing a colour, being patted or being called out. As the child develops these stimuli are organized and help to adapt to the environment.

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As the socialization process develops, the child through the help of its caretaker organizes these stimuli to become aware and to conform to socially accepted behavior.

When a child perceives events as haphazard, when the environment is seen as unpredictable and adaptive strategies are absent then the child becomes anxious.

Anxiety disorders cause distress, social dysfunction, school and occupational disability and financial loss. The various factors causing or contributing to anxiety can be seen by clicking here.

This page is about anxiety prevention and treatment.

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Treatment for anxiety: Prevention

Studies have shown ‘behavior inhibition’ in children to be highly associated with later anxiety disorders.

Inhibited children had a higher incidence of anxiety problems as adults. 15 to 20 % of children are born predisposed to be irritable as infants, shy and fearful as toddlers and cautious, quiet and introverted at school age.

They have a low threshold for arousal, especially in unfamiliar events. As a result inhibited children react to novelty situations with diminished exploration, retreat, and increased heart rate.

Child Anxiety Treatment | https://www.singhaniaclinic.com/anxiety-in-children/child-anxiety-treatment Inhibited Child Benefits When Anxiety Is Managed & Easier To Fulfil Potential

Child Anxiety Treatment

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Child anxiety treatment: Treatment for behavior inhibition

The inhibited child has greater needs for support, reassurance and nurturing when young.

As the child grows older the parents need to be aware of teaching the child how to face new or challenging situations through rehearsal, preparation, and explanation.

It is important that parents of such children do not throw them into challenging situations as a way to increase their initiative.

Child anxiety treatment: Prevention tips for parents

  • Do not be hypercritical
  • Do not pressure
  • Look for the positives in your child
  • Give them a chance to succeed
  • Hence place them in a situation where they have a good chance to succeed
  • Do not use put downs to make a point
  • Do not use shame as a form of punishment
  • Do not use physical punishment
  • Teach them to express anger and grief
  • Encourage exploration of the outside world
  • Give them choices
  • Provide a safe and stable environment

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Child anxiety treatment: Management

The first step is to suspect an anxiety disorder and get it assessed. Once the diagnosis is confirmed there are several modalities of treatment that can be used.

Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy

These are based on models of learning. The child is given and taught strategies to cope with anxiety.

Exposure-based strategies

The child is exposed very gradually to the anxiety-provoking stimuli over a number of weeks e.g. a child who had social phobia made a list of situations that caused anxiety.

Then the one producing the least anxiety-like going to a shopping mall is practiced till the one producing the most anxiety like going to school is reached.

Systematic desensitization

Consists of three steps

  • Relaxation training, construction of the anxiety hierarchy and pairing of relaxation with gradual presentation of anxiety-provoking situations e.g. a child with phobia for heights was taught to relax his muscles through training
  • Then he was presented with a visual of him climbing a ladder. He was asked to stop at the rung he started to feel anxious at and then relax himself
  • Flooding involves repeated and prolonged exposure to the feared item or situation with the goal of extinguishing the anxiety response. These can be conducted imaginable or in vivo. Again use of relaxation is paramount

Contingency management

The situations or events that precipitate or exaggerate anxiety are modified.

Pharmacotherapy

Treatment with tablets or anxiolytics for a short time during the CBT is sometimes useful. Some of the medications are benzodiazepines, Buspirone, antihistamines.

Non-medical therapies

  • Massage – touch therapy
  • Yoga
  • Music
  • Herbs like Valerian
  • Modifying the environment
    • Teaching more appropriate parenting techniques
    • Academic interventions when appropriate
    • Marital therapy when conflict is present
  • Social skills training and friendship making skills
  • Anger coping management
  • Assertiveness training

Prevention and Management of Anxiety Disorders
Rajeshree Singhania MD, PhD, Med Neurodevelopmental Paediatrician

Child Anxiety Treatment | https://www.singhaniaclinic.com/anxiety-in-children/child-anxiety-treatment Inhibited Child Benefits When Anxiety Is Managed & Easier To Fulfil Potential

Child Anxiety Treatment

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Child Anxiety Treatment: Essential was last modified: March 12th, 2017 by Dr. Rajeshree Singhania