Anxiety is a powerful emotion that can evoke all sorts of responses. The body sends a signal to the brain and the brain's response is to scream: "You are in danger!" This fight or flight mechanism helped us immensely during our caveman days, when we needed these signals to survive an attack from a wild animal. But in most situations these days, this response is a false alarm. But it's a false alarm that can feel very real! Heart racing, shortness of breath, trembling in arms and legs, tingling in fingers are just a few examples of what can happen when anxiety takes over. These reactions - in and of themselves - can be so scary to children that they actually increase the anxiety, making it debilitating.
What's more, often times the anxiety cannot be explained or rationalized away.
Our instinct is to tell children:
"You'll be okay. It's just a short book report. Everyone has to do it."
"There is nothing to worry about - Mommy will never forget to pick you up from school."
"We are not going to get into a car accident! I will even drive extra carefully so you won't have to worry."
"Just relax. You will be okay."
But with kids who really struggle with anxiety, these explanations are just not enough.
Help for Children with Anxiety
Fortunately, there is help for anxious children. Children have the ability to gain an awareness of their feelings and become empowered to gain control over this powerful emotion.
Your child can be a Worry Warrior!
I use a blend of play therapy, mindfulness practices, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, and innovative "brain- based" strategies coming from the latest in neuroscience. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is also sometimes indicated for children with anxiety.
Help for Parents
Parent and family sessions will give you resources and tools to help your child take control of the anxiety. You will be given phrases to use for those times when you just don't know what to say.
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." -Fred Rogers
*I am currently on maternity leave. Please check back in August 2017!*
Laura Christofferson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Play Therapist LCS26576