Q: Why do fear and anxiety develop?
A: Significant anxiety usually develops from a combination of biological and environmental factors. Genetics can play an important role in predisposing a child to develop significant anxiety. Other non-biological factors include parenting style, significant negative events, avoidance behavior, negative cognitive style.
Q: Do fears and anxiety go away?
A: Usually, children will have fears at one stage or another, and this is a normal developmental process. These fears will go away after a short period of time and without significant impact. In some children, however, the fears won’t go away. They’ll even worsen; lead to great distress; and impact the child’s functioning, his family, and the relationship between them.
Q: How common is childhood anxiety?
A: Anxiety disorders are among the most common phenomena disorders in children and adolescents, and they can have a negative effect on a variety of areas in the child’s life and family life. Despite the high prevalence and significant negative consequences, anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are often undiagnosed and untreated.
Q: What is the relevant treatment for anxiety in children:
A: The first-line evidence based treatment for anxiety, is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This treatment has been proven to be very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.
When a child’s anxiety symptoms are severe, or when a child refuses to receive treatment, or the child responds only partially to treatment, adding medication may be helpful.
Q: Can Cognitive Behavioral Treatment harm the child?
A: There is no evidence that such a process causes harm to a child. There is ample evidence that such a successful process leads to a reduction in fears, improvement of functioning, and improved parent-child communication, and more.
Q: Do fears and anxiety return after they go away?
A: Fears and anxiety tend to try and come back even after a very successful reatment tprocess. They mainly recur in stressful situations, crises, life changes (changing a school, moving homes), quarreling between parents, and for a variety of other stressful reasons. It’s very important in such a situation to recognize that the difficulties are back and to immediately return to the principles learned here in order to prevent the process of deterioration and return to the previous situation.
Q: Is it worth giving OTC drugs?
A: The psychological difficulty with these drugs is that they often become safety objects. That can lead to the child becoming “addicted” to the “problem-solving” drug and doesn’t lead to coping in a different and effective way. This is why such drugs are not only unhelpful but become a major factor in maintaining fear.
Q: Is it possible that the child is just being manipulative?
A: Many parents are afraid that the child is “manipulating,” but when there are clear signs of anxiety (crying, distress, dependence on the parent), it certainly indicates a difficulty that requires gradual intervention to deal with the fear and certainly not criticizing or implying that it is manipulation.
Q: Can certain things in a child’s diet make fears worse (e.g., sugar, caffeine, etc.)?
A: To the best of our knowledge, there is no correlation between diet and fear and anxiety level.
Q: Should both parents be involved in the process of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment?
A: It’s highly recommended that both parents be involved in Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for a variety of reasons. First, both parents can learn about the importance of changing their behavior in helping the child. Second, there are many situations where at a given moment, only one parent is present. It’s very worthwhile for both parents to be able to direct the child in coping. Third, the message is very clear to the child when both parents behave the same way and communicate similarly. Fourth, it’s sometimes difficult for one parent for all sorts of reasons to address/assist the child in time of anxiety (apprehension, fatigue, frustration), and in order to have a continuum, it is important that both parents can be involved.
Q: What are important signs that parents should address?
A: *If the child has negative reaction to a variety of situations: anger, frustration, hopelessness, embarrassment, irritation. * Repeats questions over numerous times “What if..” and its hard to comfort him with logical explanations. * Physical symptoms. Headaches, stomach aches, and is absent from school regularly.* The child shows significant anxiety prior to events (days or even weeks) *Sleep problems – hard to fall asleep, parental dependency, recurrent nightmares.* Perfectionist. Has very high or impossible standards. * Avoidance. From social activity, school, family gatherings. * Parents spend a lot of time comforting the child and help him/her to manage various situations