When younger children are anxious, it affects the whole family and treatment must include the family. I meet with parents and younger children together to provide education about how anxiety and worry operate. Worry feels big and scary but it is pretty predictable and manageable once families understand what it wants and how to respond to it when it shows up. You can learn how to interrupt the patterns that keep it going.
Parent coaching is crucial to learning how to pay attention to the patterns of behavior that exacerbate worry and help their child respond to worry on a daily basis. This is important for parents of younger children but parents with children at any age can benefit. It is not uncommon for an anxious child to have one or more anxious parents. Working together makes the most sense if other family members also worry.
Patterns of behavior families engage in that make sense, but just don’t work include:
Reassuring, overprotecting and over-involvement in an attempt to reduce worry.
Providing certainty and comfort when your child “has to know… who will be at the birthday party, if you will be on time, what will happen if…
Require family, school and others to accommodate the anxiety by changing the environment. For example, making sure so and so is not in child’s class, avoid eating in cafeteria, child is given warnings by teacher so they know what is coming up next etc. and feeling like you are walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting child.