As a child, the world is full of fears and challenges, real and imaginary, that adults cannot recollect from their own childhood. Most of these childhood fears and challenges are temporary and eventually outgrown, but studies show that one in eight children suffer from an anxiety disorder and anxiety has become one of the most common mental health conditions in children. At some point in life, children will experience some form of anxiety, however, when the symptoms become distressing and interfere with normal living then the anxiety can be considered and classified as an anxiety disorder. The mind and emotions of a child are continuously changing and developing at different rates, so it may not always be easy to distinguish normal fears and challenges from those that may require additional attention. That is why it is important to important not only to assess the severity of the symptoms that obstruct daily living, but also be aware of the developmental progress of each individual child. Assessing if the fears and behaviors are appropriate on a developmental level is crucial for each child. Many situations will cause children to display anxiety; however, if they continue beyond reasonable age norms, or are intense and distressing, then it could likely be the beginning stage of an anxiety disorder. These intense or distressing anxieties can eventually cause more serious distress, destroy a family system, and interfere with a child’s development or education.
Anxiety disorders that your child could be experiencing are:
Generalized anxiety disorder. With this common anxiety disorder, children worry excessively about many things, such as school, the health or safety of family members, or the future in general. They may always think of the worst that could happen. Children with generalized anxiety tend to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. Children with this disorder are self-conscious, self-doubting, and excessively concerned about meeting other people’s expectations. Along with the worry and dread, kids may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, or tiredness. With generalized anxiety, worries can feel like a burden, making life feel overwhelming or out of control.
PsychCentral recently interviewed our very own Clair Mellenthin, the Clinical Director here at Wasatch Family Therapy. Clair was asked about how she copes with stress, the best part of her job, and her overall experiences being a therapist. Here are a few of her answers:
This 8 week group is designed to help school-aged children navigate the challenges of social situations and understand what it means to be a friend. Focusing on understanding their role and impact on those in their world.
Keep and make friends
Discover skills for coping with anxiety
Strengthen social skills
Next Session begins: Monday, September 15th (4:30 – 5:30 PM)
Many parents with kids entering first grade are shocked about how big this transition is for their child. They go from being in school part of the day or even part of the week in kindergarten to being in school for the full day. This is a full day without mom and dad, without the comforts of home and without knowing what to expect. Often times many first graders develop anxiety for the first couple of weeks and may exhibit some regressive behaviors during that time. Watch the video to learn some tips for helping your kids get through this transitional period.
Wasatch Family Therapy’s Kate Hofer with Collette Dawson-Loveless will present a CPRT for Teens and Art Therapy training on April 27th, 2012 for the Association of Play Therapy Utah Chapter. The training focuses on strengthening the bonds of attachment between parent and child. The training will be held at the Foster Care Foundation located at 5296 S Commerce Drive #400, Murray, UT 84107.
Q: My daughter’s children are close friends with their cousins. The parents of these cousins took in foster children who sexually molested the cousins. My daughter wants to know how best she can protect her children from being molested by the cousins. All the children involved are younger than 10 years old. My son was similarly molested by neighbor children and has been struggling with pornography and masturbation for twenty years. She doesn’t want that to happen to her children. Where can she go for advice?
A: The first step your daughter can take is to begin to have first of several conversations with her young children about good and bad touch- explaining “good” touch is a hug, a tickle under the armpit, a high five. A “bad” touch is when someone touches your private parts or asks you to touch theirs. Talking about what to do if this ever happens is also a topic for conversations throughout their lives- always tell a grownup! She also needs to ask if they have ever experienced “bad touch” to find out if they have also been abused.
Just because the cousins were sexually abused, it does not necessarily mean that they will in turn, molest others or engage in sexually inappropriate behaviors. If they have not acted out sexually, you do not need to limit their exposure and time together, unless the foster children are still in their home. To be on the safe side, an adult should be supervising their play for the next few months. They can still have play dates and engage in normal interactions, but I would suggest that the play just takes place out in the open- no closed doors allowed. I would also say “no” to sleepovers for the time being. If the cousins have been acting out sexually because of their abuse, it is okay to limit the play dates and offer support as adult friends/family.
A good resource for your family members is The Association For Play Therapy where you can find play therapists who specialize in treating sexually reactive and abused children in your area. There are chapters located throughout the United States.
Get to know our Wasatch Family Therapy therapists and their specialty areas, learn more about why we do what we do, and hear about my vision for Wasatch Family Therapy 9 years ago when it was a solo practice.