Generalized anxiety disorder or typically referred as GAD, can affect children of all ages and gender. Owing to our normal observation that children are usually happy and go-lucky fellows with little to worry about, we may not notice when something is off.
As is the case among adults, when your child displays signs of excessive worry and anxiety over seemingly simple daily activities then, the chances are that he or she is suffering from GAD. While adults have a variety of ways in which they can deal with anxiety including prescription medication, the options available for children are quite limited.
It is, therefore, important that such a problem is identified early enough and dealt with conclusively, so it does not develop into a bigger problem later in life. Below are some tried and tested methods that can help your child recover from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
1. Identify The Problem
The first step when dealing with a possible case of childhood anxiety disorder is to identify the problem right when the initial symptoms become evident. As simple as that sounds, it does take a discerning eye to notice the actual manifestations of GAD in a child. A parent or a guardian would usually know what their children like – be it playing video games with friends, visiting their favorite ice cream parlor or simply relaxing in the house reading a good book among other activities.
When you notice that your child has developed a sudden aversion to things they used to like doing without any sensible reason, then that may be a red flag to investigate the cause of the behavioral change further. Of course, you have to be sure that your child has not recently had an awful experience while engaged in a particular activity leading to the dislike.
You have to let your child be comfortable enough around you to share his or her fears openly, disclosing details of what may be troubling them. Once you have narrowed down to the cause of their anxiety, you can then proceed to evaluate the options you have for dealing with the problem.
There are some therapeutic approaches you can use to deal with childhood anxiety disorder. A lot of people out there usually turn to prescription medicine such as antidepressants immediately they suspect their children are facing GAD. This is however not advisable especially when not dealing with an extreme case.
According to widely accepted research conclusions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be more effective in not only suppressing the initial symptoms of childhood anxiety but also establishing a lasting fortitude against their future recurrence. Noteworthy is the fact that this method of treatment has no adverse side effects on the overall development of your child.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seeks to help your child to face his or her fears instead of avoiding them altogether. Your child is essentially exposed to the things or activities that trigger fear or any irrational behavior on an increasing scale.
It is important to do this in an environment where the child will feel secure enough to tackle the anxiety and eventually overcome it. The beauty of this method is it does not necessarily have to be conducted by a therapist. Once you fully understand how to go about it, you can take your child through the therapy session in their most comfortable environment.
As mentioned, there are extreme cases of childhood anxiety disorders that do require specialized treatment which may require the use of prescription medicine. Before settling for this option, it is critical that you help your child understand that their condition does not in any way make them weird or less desirable. This is especially important when preventing reclusiveness or any feelings of being alone in their struggle to deal with what they perceive other children of their age aren’t going through.
Medical treatment works best when conducted hand in hand with behavioral therapy. The child should continue doing all the normal activities they normally do without giving too much attention to the limitations they have due to anxiety. Parents or guardians should be more supportive during the treatment period as this will help the child recover faster and develop resilience against possible future anxiety problems.