Friday, March 13, 2015

Skills for Anxious Children

Accomplished clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Grosshans has provided psychotherapy to children in both outpatient and inpatient settings. The author of Beyond Time-Out, a parenting text that discusses power dynamics and child anxiety, Dr. Beth Grosshans now focuses on sharing her expertise with schools.

When a child displays anxious behaviors, parents frequently rush to separate the child from the source of the anxiety. Experts warn, however, that such a response instead strengthens the anxiety and prevents a child from learning coping skills. Psychologists suggest that children with fears need to develop the confidence to manage their feelings and face scary situations.

This process involves both empathizing with a children's feelings and supporting them as they face their fears, a message that can be as simple as, “it's okay to be scared; I'm here for you.” Experts warn parents not to ask a child if he or she is worried or to show worry themselves, as the child can then feel that he or she should be afraid. Instead, parents and other adults can model calm behavior, encourage tolerance of anxious feelings, and make a plan for coping with a potentially frightening situation. However, if the child seems to be experiencing disruptive levels of anxiety, parents may need to consult with a mental health professional.

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