Tips for Preventing Anxiety in Children

Course excerpt from Anxiety in Children –

Anxiety in ChildrenAccording to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2017), it is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk of performing poorly in school, missing out on important social experiences, and engaging in substance abuse. One in five children with an anxiety disorder is not diagnosed. Anxiety disorders untreated in childhood can continue well into adulthood.

Children with language and communication disorders are especially susceptible to anxiety because they are struggling academically and often compare themselves with their peers. They might feel stupid, lazy, and overlooked by their peers. They often don’t have the language skills they need to express their anxiety and often have issues with school as a result of it.

What Can Professionals and Parents Do to Prevent Childhood Anxiety?

Certainly, the best way to reduce the incidence and severity of anxiety disorders in children is to take steps to prevent its occurrence in the first place. As noted above, one of the causes of anxiety in children is anxiety in their parents. If the parents can learn to manage their own anxiety, they can help prevent – or at least manage – anxiety in their children.

Here are a few tips and strategies that can be incorporated into therapy sessions for the purpose of preventing and managing anxiety in children:

Remember that Positive Language is Important

Advise parents to check how often they are saying “be careful” to their children. Instead, they recommend saying, “Think a few steps ahead” or “Use your head and have fun!” As clinicians, we can do this as well. It is important for adults to let children know that they are valued and liked regardless of their behavior. Adults can discipline a child and work to improve the child’s behavior while still sending the message of unconditional positive regard.

Foster Resilience and Self-Efficacy

Helping professionals can find ways to foster resilience in children. A resilient child feels that he can positively influence the environment in which he lives. Known as self-efficacy, this can be nurtured by finding ways to foster a child’s independence and autonomy. Children need these life skills to develop into independent and productive members of society. But this generation’s youth are protected more than in previous eras, and rightly so, since many neighborhoods are not conducive to children playing outside or walking to the corner store alone. However, the result of this protective climate has deprived children of opportunities to learn basic life skills.

Adults need to find ways to foster a sense of true mastery in children. When we teach life skills, we are sending the message “you can do this,” “you are capable,” and “you will be an active and productive member of society one day.” According to Flasher and Fogle (2012), “The ability to be encouraging may be one of the most important qualities of clinicians.”

Give Choices

Giving children choices hands some control over to the child without compromising the adult’s authority—a win/win situation. Implicit in the choice is the fact that the child needs to fulfill the task but gets to choose how it will be accomplished. Giving choices diffuses conflict and lets children assert their independence in a healthy way. It exercises their brains by making them think and solve problems. It is an extremely effective technique to use with independent and defiant children and toddlers.

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Anxiety in Children is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that focuses on behavioral interventions for children with anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2017), it is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children, but is often not diagnosed. Untreated anxiety can lead to substance abuse, difficulties in school, and depression. Professionals who work with children, including speech language pathologists, mental health professionals, and occupational therapists, frequently encounter anxiety disorders among their young clients. This course is intended to help clinicians recognize and understand the anxiety disorders that frequently occur in children and learn a wide variety of communication and behavioral strategies for helping their clients manage their anxiety. Included are sections on types and causes of anxiety disorders, strategies for prevention, evidence-based treatments, techniques for helping children manage worry, relaxation techniques for use with children, and detailed discussions on school anxiety and social anxiety. Course #40-43 | 2017 | 69 pages | 25 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. After enrolling, click on My Account and scroll down to My Active Courses. From here you’ll see links to download/print the course materials and take the CE test (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document). Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA Provider #AAUM); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501) and the Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).