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Anxiety is a normal, emotional reaction to danger, and has been explained as “the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation.” It is the body’s natural response to stress and will manifest differently in different people. The feelings of anxiety can range from mild (e.g., fluttering in one’s stomach) to severe (e.g., heart palpitations). Regardless, anxiety can be a challenging emotion for kids to manage. Fortunately, there are many effective tips and techniques that child therapists use to support children struggling with anxiety. Child mental health experts, from various sources, offer the following suggestions: 

  • Teach children the basics of anxiety: Help children understand what anxiety is, what it feels like, and what triggers it. This can help them develop greater self-awareness and learn to recognize when they are feeling anxious.
  • Encourage children to explore relaxation tactics: Relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, etc.) can help adolescents build distress tolerance. Research has found that meditation, for example, can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.
  • Promote healthy daily habits: Help your child develop a schedule that incorporates eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, obtaining ample sleep, and limited screen time to reduce anxiety.
  • Endorse mindfulness practices: Techniques like meditation and deep breathing can improve one’s state of mind and outlook on life. Research has found that practicing deep breathing exercises can effectively help with relaxation, stress management, control of psychophysiological states, and improve organ function.

While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable, it is atypical to experience persistent and debilitating symptoms of anxiety. A child may be struggling with an anxiety disorder when pervasive anxiety interferes with his or her ability to function in daily life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” There are currently five distinct types of anxiety disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). Anxiety disorders are serious mental health conditions that require professional treatment.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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