The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Anxiety in Children and Teens – Excerpts
“Do you wonder why your child or teen seems on edge, unduly nervous, or restless at times—maybe all of the time? Are you uncertain if and when you should be worried? Are you so busy that sometimes you dismiss these thoughts but later reconsider them? You may be noticing that you have an anxious child or teen.”
Chapter One: The Parental Intelligence Way
“Given that reasonable perspective, Lidia’s tears recede and she gives her mother a big hug. ‘I don’t feel so dizzy anymore, and my chest isn’t pounding now. Phew! I thought I’d never feel better.’ Now Lidia’s mother knew: her daughter had been having a panic attack. No wonder she was crying so hard, she thinks. She must’ve been really scared. Thank goodness she’s calm so her separation anxiety won’t kick in when I go out.
What a difference! How did this busy mother turn a possible disaster into a learning and bonding moment with her daughter and prevent a full-blown panic attack? The answer is simple: she used Parental Intelligence. In just fifteen minutes, mother and daughter were settled down. Lidia began her homework, Mother made dinner, and Dad came home in time. Parental Intelligence gave this busy woman the tools to keep her daughter from slipping over the edge unnecessarily. Let’s look more closely at how this works.”
Chapter Two: Generalized Anxiety
“Tall, brown-haired Clive is a likable seven-year-old kid with an engaging disposition. Developmentally, he is on par with kids his age. He has great traits: spunk, independence, a good sense of responsibility, reasonable self-reliance, and a quick wit. However, he suffers with persistent and excessive anxiety and like getting on the school bus, performing academically, getting his teachers’ and parents’ approval, and baseball. He actually does above average or excels in all these activities. His worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstances and is difficult to control and even affects him physically. He feels restless and on edge from the time he wakes up in the morning. He is easily tired after not sleeping well and irritable with muscle tension and difficulty concentrating. His concerns shift rapidly from one to another, and some anxious episodes have lasted more than six months.”
Chapter Three: Panic Attacks
“Panic attacks are times of intense fear without realistic danger that typically last from a few minutes up to approximately thirty minutes. Symptoms may include chest pain, palpitations, trembling, sweating, muscle tension, numbness, disorientation, and a feeling of impending dread as if something bad is about to happen. Panic attacks are relatively rare in children until puberty when the prevalence may increase (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, 210).”
Chapter Four: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Tips for Parents with OCD
- Early intervention is essential. When parents notice the first signs of compulsions—which they will see because they are observable (unlike obsessive thoughts, which are hidden)—getting professional help right away prevents the OCD from becoming chronic and fixed.
- Monitor your own reactions by self-reflecting on how your child’s behavior makes you feel. If you skip this step of Parental Intelligence, you may find yourself yelling at the child for his actions, which would only increase the anxiety and consequently worsen the compulsions.
- Reassure the child about the distinctions between pretend and real, and between thoughts and actions. This helps him see that, for example, the germs are a fear in his mind, not threatening in reality.
- Recognize that OCD is a disease. This will help you avoid becoming punitive if you become annoyed by the inconveniences the disorder causes. There’s a great tendency for adults to just tell a child to stop their compulsions, to use willpower and self-discipline. This fails and, in fact, exacerbates the anxiety, which 60 | Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in turn increases the OCD and furthermore makes the child feel that he isn’t understood and then he feels alone with his plight. Feeling alone makes a child feel crazy, scared, and filled with self-doubts, which again only increases the anxiety.