When we hear of anxiety, we always consider it in terms of the anxieties and mental health disorders experienced by adults. We do not see ourselves thinking of it in terms of children with anxiety.

But with all that is happening in the world today, children ─in all their innocence and purity─ are no longer spared from the terrorizing threat and effects of anxiety. Like adults, children can also fall prey to all forms of anxiety disorders in existence, particularly separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and performance anxiety disorder.

Although scientific evidence points out that genetics plays a major role whether children will develop anxiety disorders, other researches and studies indicate that anxious responses and actions can also be a learned process. This nurture theory is explained by the analogy that children’s brains work like sponges. As sponges, they absorb all the things they see, hear, taste, smell and touch in their environment. They soak up all the positive and negative things that happen around them.

For children who live in a place where family members, particularly parents, show anxious and nervous emotions all day long, these children will take on their parents anxiety and nervousness. Bad experiences such as being bullied and ridiculed at home or in school can also serve to plant the seeds of fear and terror within the child which he can bring till adulthood. Other causes of anxiety may also be brought about by the pressures from studies as well as the demanding need to compete and be at par with peers at school.

Anxiety in children should not be ignored and passed off as a mere phase. Parents must be vigilant in making sure that they pay adequate attention to their child’s emotional needs. If, however, anxiety has already taken its toll, here are 5 treatment methods to help unlink the chains of fears tied to these children.

1. Cognitive –Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a dynamic, solid therapy used as the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders. Through this method, children are taught to recognize and understand that the persistent anxieties that overwhelm and take control of them are mere feelings not founded on real and valid grounds. They are taught to realize that although some things may evoke feelings of threat and danger, these do not necessarily indicate that they are.

Furthermore, they are taught to identify thoughts that are unrealistic and label them as such. They are also trained to generate more positive thoughts to help them appropriately cope with the stresses and anxieties.

Since this instruction can be difficult for children to grasp, this therapy must be done by a skilled therapist both competent in the treatment of children and the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

2. Family Therapy

Family therapy has emerged as a strong tool in the treatment of anxieties in children as psychologists realize the importance of how family patterns and relations lead to both the issue as well as the solution to the mental, emotional, physical and behavioral problems of anxiety.

In here, family members, specifically parents of the patient, are coached on how to help their children cope and manage the signs and symptoms of anxiety and the complications that they bring. Parents are encouraged to be more supportive and nurturing of their children without acting as enablers of the negative behaviors of the child, in order to assist in the resolution of the disorder.

3. Play Therapy

For children below ten to twelve years of age, play therapy has been used by psychologists to get the child to interact and open up. It is believed that the symbols used by children in their creative play are a glimpse into the inner nature of their fears and dreams. The expression of this inner nature through play helps the child to become fully conscious of oneself. Moreover, this expression serves as a good emotional release for the child. When the fears and worries are expressed through play, these anxieties lose some of their influence and control over the child.

4. Relaxation Techniques

To counteract the effects of anxiety, it is important that a child knows how to perform relaxation techniques. A good example of such technique is the use of proper deep, breathing exercises. Deep breathing is encouraged to the child at moments when anxiety attacks as it helps to increase the oxygen supply in the brain; thus, fight off anxiety and stress. In addition to that, the concentration and focus given to the task of deeply breathing acts as a form of distraction, making it more useful in reducing anxiety.

5. Natural Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, lavender, valerian root, scullcap, and chamomile, when used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, or play therapy, help to bring calmness and relaxation to the child. This natural herbs act as effectively as pharmacological drugs, minus the side effects and the risk of abuse and addiction.

Childhood is one of the best periods of a person’s life. It is important then, that children spend this time in high spirits. Though they will experience challenges along the way, they must not concern themselves with serious conditions such as anxiety. Hence, as guardians, keeping them loved, safe and healthy should be your utmost priority.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera is an anxiety survivor. He shares his experiences on anxiety and anxiety attacks at www.calmclinic.com.