Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in children, it doesn’t distinguish between age, background or social group. Anxiety UK suggests 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives. There are many different presentations of anxiety, today’s blog will focus on GAD. You can click on here for my blogs on OCD, Separation Anxiety and Social Anxiety
What is GAD ( Generalised Anxiety Disorder)?
Children with GAD can worry just about everything and anything, the worry is often chronic. Children often think or say ” what if” this happens or that happens.
You may notice your child:
- Asking you lots of questions and details of new situations
- Eavesdropping on your conversations and wanting to know what’s going to happen
- Looking over your shoulder and checking what you are doing
- They may think about something long and hard even though it that happened days ago such as upsetting a friend.
- They worry whether they are good enough at school or sports
- They may fear making mistakes and seem perfectionistic
- They may stop going to groups if they don’t feel they are good enough.
- Feel as of everything is their fault and their responsibility
Physically they may have:
- Lots of tummy aches
- Lots of butterflies and funny feelings in their tummies
- Feel sick
- Find it hard to concentrate
- Sleep difficulties, especially being able to get off to sleep
When do you need to be worried about GAD?
Some children will present with symptoms of the above, this does not mean they are suffering from a disorder. Remember, to think about the duration of symptoms, ( longer than six months) the severity and how it impacts on their day to day life.
Do’s and Dont’s when helping your child with GAD
1. Don’t tell them not to worry, they will worry as they have no other choice other than to worry until they have learned alternative coping mechanisms.
2. Do educate them on anxiety and what it is and how it affects everyone.
3. Address the physical symptoms by teaching them how to breathe and relax, make a self-soothe box together
4. Don’t reassure them, unfortunately, it is not effective and will not prevent the worry!.
5. Do break down the “what if’s thinking”, ask them
“What would be the worst thing I/you believe is going to happen, try and challenge the negative thinking”.
6. Do teach them self-talk, how they can talk and beat “the worry”
Give the ” worry ” a name, ah is the worry boss here today, what can we do to calm it down.
7. Don’t allow your child to avoid as this will only serve to make the worry stronger.
Many anxiety disorders begin in childhood and adolescence, and the average time a person waits to seek help for their condition (particularly for OCD and chronic worrying or GAD ) is over 10 years. I am keen to prevent this either by seeing families in a consultation or my workshop Stop The Worry Cycle Parent Workshop in November.
Next month I will be writing a blog on Phobia’s, do contact me or follow me on Facebook if you have any questions! With Love Catherine