Anxiety Therapy in Laguna Hills, CA

Parenting an anxious child | Anxiety Therapist in Laguna Hills, CA

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Anxiety Therapist in Laguna Hills, CA for your child?

Anxiety is one of the fastest growing diagnoses among children and teens. I am an Anxiety Therapist in Laguna Hills, CA. The increase in fears, panic attacks, social phobia and school phobia have skyrocketed in my office over the past ten years and most of my colleagues are seeing similar changes in their practices as well. Parenting a child who presents with anxiety symptoms is a very challenging task and creates huge stress and worry for parents.

Our reflexive reaction when we have a child or teen with anxiety is to try to talk rationally to them and get them to calm down and look at the situation in a more realistic manner. We also may instinctively look to shield our children from whatever seems to be causing them anxiety in the first place. While both of these approaches work fairly well with single time stress or fear causing situations, they quickly become less useful and even counterproductive with more chronic stress or anxiety.

What we see with anxiety in children is that if you engage in protective behavior related to the thing that is causing the child fear or anxiety, you are actually confirming that there is something to be fearful of and avoid. Unfortunately our natural protective instinct can actually increase fears and create more anxiety, even though that is exactly what we are trying to avoid! The most common example of this is something that most parents have had to deal with at some point; a child’s fear of sleeping in his or her own bedroom. If you allow your child to sleep in your room, or if you sleep in his or her room to help with the irrational fear, it then takes much longer to eliminate this problem. This is a classic example of a common sense approach that can actually make the irrational fear and anxiety worse.
The same can be true of even trying to talk your child out of the fear. Remember that the fears we are primarily talking about here are irrational fears, meaning they are not really something to be afraid of. Talking to your child about his or her fears is a healthy and productive way to start out, but if you find that you are having repetitive conversations about the same irrational fear, then the chances are that those conversations are actually adding to your child’s anxiety. I know that it may be against your natural parenting instinct, but continually talking to a child or teen about their irrational fears can actually keep those fears alive and at the forefront of their thinking. Allowing your child to repetitively talk to you about his or her worries day after day, and therefore think about the worries, tends to keep those worries alive and well energized. There are some really effective techniques such as “worry time” that can allow some communication about your child’s anxiety, while limiting the amount of time and energy that you are giving to the irrational fear.

The good thing about anxiety issues is that they tend to respond very well to targeted parental interventions and/or counseling. Many of us simply have a genetic “wiring” to be more anxious and if you have a child with chronic anxiety, chances are there are other members of the extended family that have similar issues. With some simple and usually shorter term parent coaching and/or counseling, we can teach our children to manage their anxieties in a healthy manner throughout their lifetime.

Anxiety Therapist in Laguna Hills, CA | Contact Jay for a free consultation.

photo credit: Luzern #1 via photopin (license)

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