Anxiety in Children

You are most likely reading this because you are worried about your child and the amount of anxiety they are having. Let’s try to figure this out together. Everyone will experience some anxiety, some worry, and some stress. It is simply a part of the human experience.  It is normal for your child to have some anxiety and stress. For example, everyone has anxiety before he or she has to give a school report. This normal kind of stress causes them to prepare well. However, if they are spending countless hours preparing and practicing and still are unable to rest and feel ready, then they may be up against something more serious. Sometimes the anxiety causes them to freeze altogether and not be able to finish projects at all.  When normal activities of everyday life overwhelm your child and take away his or her joy, even to the point of not being able to function, then we have a bigger problem.

Does your child seem like they have a constant feeling of dread or that something really bad is about to happen to them or a loved one? Is your child more clingy or does he or she refuse to leave your side even when other children seem to be able to run off and play? Does he feel tense, jumpy, irritable or restless a lot of the time? Does your child often complain of a tummy ache, headache or other “phantom illnesses”? Do you worry about how often they have diarrhea with no medical reason? Do you experience your child having irrational meltdowns for what seems like irrational fears? If ANY of these sound familiar, your child may be up against some form of anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

There are many different kinds of anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by a constant over vigilance about life. It leaves the child feeling unsafe most of the time and exhausted by always having to be on guard. A child with GAD will often have chronic, exaggerated worry about many facets of life.

Social Anxiety

Some children have Social Anxiety Disorder. This is more than just shyness. Social anxiety causes intense fear about social interaction, often driven by irrational worries about humiliation (e.g. saying something stupid or not knowing what to say). A child with Social Anxiety disorder may refuse to take part in conversations, contribute to class discussions or offer their ideas, and may become isolated. Panic attacks are a common reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is diagnosed if your child suffers at least two unexpected panic or anxiety attacks—which means they come on suddenly and for no reason—followed by at least one month of concern over having another attack, losing control, or “going crazy.”

Separation Anxiety

It is common for children from 18 months to three years old to cry when their parents leave their sight or when being dropped off at daycare or the nursery. They may continue to cry until they are engaged in their new environment. This can continue for the next few years, but eventually, most children outgrow this brief separation anxiety.

If your child is still having a difficult time beyond four they may have Separation Anxiety Disorder. This is characterized by a child who has a very difficult time leaving their parent or even going to sleep at night because of fear that something terrible might happen to them or to their loved ones. This affects kids most commonly between ages seven and nine and affects about 4% of kids.

Kids struggling with Separation Anxiety Disorder often have extreme homesickness, refuse to go to school, and may refuse to go to sleep without someone next to them.

Specific Phobias

If your child suffers from a specific phobia they may experience an intense, irrational fear of a specific object, such as a dog, or a situation, such as flying. Common childhood phobias include animals, storms, heights, water, blood, the dark, and medical procedures.

Children will avoid situations or things that they fear, or endure them with anxious feelings, which can manifest as crying, tantrums, clinging, avoidance, headaches, and stomachaches. Unlike adults, they do not usually recognize that their fear is irrational.

If any of these descriptions resonate with you about your child’s anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue and affects over 40 million people in the U.S. The CDC reports that as many as 6 out of 10 children suffer from anxiety at some point, so you are not alone! These statistics are just of those who have sought out help for anxiety! No one knows how many more are suffering without help. That doesn’t need to be YOU or your child!

It can be so hard to find the right help for your child. Who can you trust with one of the most precious people in your life?  At Core Values Counseling we want to personalize your child’s experience. We have compassionate and well-trained counselors along with Neurofeedback therapy and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy that can help your family begin this journey successfully.

We use a Neurofeedback program called Brainpaint. Neurofeedback is a scientifically proven way to improve how we feel and function in the world by enhancing how our brain operates. Neurofeedback is especially helpful in working with children because their brain is being developed. It can help your child’s brain heal and recover from the impact anxiety has had on his or her life. Clients have noticed significant decreases in anxiety, alleviating feelings of depression, sleeping better, fewer nightmares, and increased the ability to cope with life’s challenges. This type of therapy works well when done in conjunction play therapy, family therapy, and other therapies.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)is also offered through Core Values Counseling. EAP is a new model for the treatment of anxiety and has been found in recent research studies to help people overcome anxiety by interactions with horses on the ground (vs. riding). Horses have mirror neurons which they use to mirror the emotions of the people working with them. At Core Values Counseling we welcome families to come to a farm outside of Newberg where we offer this unique form of therapy in conjunction with other therapies to address anxiety in many different ways rather than only the traditional talk therapy and medications. We also offer group therapy for anxiety using EAP when we have enough youth to form a group.

When your child is struggling it can be so painful. It can be so confusing trying to find the right path forward for them. All you want to do is find some relief for your child and from the havoc anxiety has put your family through. We understand and we will need your help in helping your child. Children need everyone in their family working together, so we will be doing a combination of family therapy and play/talk therapy. The more approaches we use with children the more support you will all feel. We also understand there are no easy or quick solutions. It takes time for change to happen, and we are here to partner with you and your child as you move forward.

Counseling is both scary and intimidating. Making the investment of time and money, along with adding something else to your family’s busy schedule can be difficult. Your child and your family are worth the investment! Your child’s future and his or her healing are worth every minute and every penny. We will give your child and your family tools that will last a lifetime of dealing with anxiety.

With the variety of tools and resources we have at Core Values Counseling, from warm, safe and compassionate therapists, to Neurofeedback, to Equine Assisted Therapy, we can personalize your child’s counseling experience and tailor the therapy to what works best for his or her healing. Incorporating Neurofeedback will help your child’s brain reset and heal from anxiety, while play therapy and family therapy will help you and your child understand triggers,  manage responses to triggers, understand why anxiety has been a big part of your child’s life and build a toolkit for dealing with anxiety. We also have resources and referrals if medication or physical therapy would be helpful. We will work with your pediatrician to ensure all the health care professionals are working together to benefit your child best.

We are here for you. You can read the profiles of our therapists here. You are welcome to contact us here to ask questions or set-up an appointment, we will get back to you within 24 hours. Taking the first step toward healthy change is courageous and powerful.

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