Anxiety in Children
Parents often inquire if theirchildren with anxietywill outgrow theiranxietyor if they will get worse over time. Some anxiouschildren, if encouraged to face their fears, develop adjusting skills on their own as they mature. In that sense, they do surmount theirfears.On the other hand,children with anxietythat avoid theirfearscan become quite handicapped by them. With prolonged aversion of age-appropriate activities, valuable skills are lost and the children with anxietybecome increasingly dependent on the few people to whom they relate. Often,family conflictsresult due to poor coping skills. With increased family conflict and diminished ability to keep up at school and with peers, theirself-esteemplummets.
Fortunately, mostchildren with anxietycan overcome theirfearsby gradually facing them. Each time afeared situationis faced, the child becomes a little less sensitive to it. After a childis repeatedly exposed to the apprehensive situation and is helped to successfully master his or heranxiety, the fight-or-flight reaction to that situation will disappear .
Over a lifetime,anxietytends to come and go in those people who are susceptible to it. Exacerbations tend to happen when supports are lost or a new stressor is faced. For example, the expectation forchildrento behave more autonomously atadolescencecan be difficult for asensitive childwho has previously relied a great deal onparental support. However, for a child that has learned adjusting skills, this difficulty is not a cause fordespair. Instead, it is a signal that previously learned coping skills need to be reviewed, and a few new ones may need to be added. Each time a new situation is mastered, confidence builds, allowing thechildto face new challenges and live aproductive, fulfilling life.
Deciding on the best method for inducing yourchildren with anxietyto face what is feared may require some thought. As a rule, whatever works and does not harm is best. If your childlacks the skills needed to face what is feared, some training by a psychologist in those skills may be needed before exposing thechildto what isfeared. For example, a chronically shy childthat for years has not communicated with friends may lack thesocial skillsto do so. Once the required skills have been taught, yourchildmust face what is feared through repeated exposures to it. BOLA TANGKAS