Treatment for Worry in Children and Teenagers

Does your child often worry about lots of things, such as how they are doing with school, their past behaviour, fitting in with friends, the future, or things happening in the world? Do they often ask, “what if?” and seek your reassurance? All kids worry from time to time, but some children worry a lot more than others. If worries are excessive or unrealistic, persist, and interfere with daily life than this may indicate an underlying difficulty.

Signs that your child may be overwhelmed with worry include:

  • Lack of awareness that their worries are unrealistic or exaggerated
  • Complaints of feeling sick when worrying
  • Seeking constant reassurance, and asking a lot of “what if?” questions
  • Fear of new or unfamiliar situations, and trying to avoid these
  • Refusing to participate in activities that other kids enjoy
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child overcome their excessive worries. For example, you can:

  • Acknowledge their emotions, show understanding and care, and offer support
  • Listen to them talk about their anxious thoughts and feelings, and answer questions truthfully
  • Set a 10- to 15-minute “worry time” period each day when your child can draw or write down their worries. This can help the child postpone their worried thoughts so that they do not take over each day
  • Ensure there is time for your child to do things they enjoy, and discuss the positives of their day
  • Model how to cope with anxious or stressful situations and verbalise as you go. Children generally learn coping strategies by watching their parents
  • Be careful not to “helicopter” and become over involved in your child’s tasks, as this can communicate that they can’t do things without adult help
  • Help your child develop their problem-solving skills by generating possible solutions together

If anxiety is getting in the way of your child enjoying life, seeking help early is the best thing you can do. Our trained Clinical Psychologists would love to work with you and your child to help conquer their anxiety. Call us today on (02) 9525 8443 to discuss your child’s situation.

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