Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives. However, if it grows to acute levels, you might have to undergo anxiety therapy. Children are also prone to this condition because childhood has a lot of uncertainties.
At five years of age, they’re learning new skills, experiencing various challenges, and exploring the world around them.
Explaining Anxiety and Panic Attacks to Your Child
Anxiety disorder is a mental condition that, if left unchecked, can have lifelong effects on your child’s wellbeing. While it’s normal for kids to have specific fears, you should be concerned if they start affecting their mental health.
This situation could deteriorate to the point of getting terrified of activities in which they previously participated happily. If you’re puzzled about the change in behavior, you should know that they’re also struggling to understand it.
Instead of merely telling children that everything will be okay, try your best to understand the origin of their anxiety. It will help you identify the problem and how to address it.
Explain to them that the condition arises from their thoughts and that the likelihood of bad things happening is lower than they imagine. Ask them how many times their fear has come true. This conversation will help them realize they’re overestimating the likelihood of experiencing it.
The more you try to shelter a child from anxiety, the worse it’s likely to become. Isolation gives the condition a more prominent role in their minds, which ultimately makes it worse. Please don’t rush to put them on medication before exploring other forms of anxiety therapy.
How to Reduce a Child’s Panic and Anxiety
Before attempting anxiety therapy, you should understand the kind of disorder your child is experiencing. Kids are more likely to be affected by different types of anxiety disorders. Read the kinds of anxiety that can affect your child here:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a tried and tested method of managing panic and anxiety disorders. This form of anxiety therapy recognizes the interconnection between thoughts, feelings, and actions.
One’s thoughts influence how they feel, which in turn impacts how they act. The resultant actions affect their thoughts, hence causing a negative cycle. If your child’s thoughts turn positive, the other parts of this triangle also automatically improve.
Anxiety therapy achieves these results by utilizing the following tools:
Shielding your child from the object or situation that causes their panic or anxiety is ultimately counterproductive. It only makes their fear stronger, which makes their disorder worse. It would help if you encouraged them to face their fear by exposing them to its root cause.
This solution is either implemented in steps or a wholesome approach, which is also known as flooding. For example, if the child is afraid of social situations, introduce them to small groups. These interactions should grow larger as they become more confident.
The flooding approach means introducing them to the maximum effects of the cause of their anxiety. When they go through it, they’ll understand that their fear was unwarranted.
(b) Correcting Thinking Mistakes
Thoughts contribute to anxiety disorder in three significant ways:
- They overestimate the likelihood of anxiety-causing situations occurring.
- They blow the likely effects of such situations out of proportion, also known as catastrophizing.
- They underestimate the child’s coping mechanisms.
Exposure plays a massive role in correcting these thinking mistakes. It proves to the mind that the fear of an event occurring is worse than actually experiencing it.
(c) Externalizing Worry
This approach equips your child with the confidence to question their thoughts and challenge those that cause anxiety. It allows them to view each situation rationally.
If you follow the anxiety therapy tips outlined in this article, you’ll soon observe a positive change in your five-year-old. They’ll be more willing to face their fears, challenge their thoughts, and explore their surroundings. For more professional counseling, consult a cognitive behavioral therapist near you.