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Managing Anxiety

Doctors, social workers and school counselors agree that parents play an essential role in helping their child or teen manage their anxiety. When coping skills and brave behavior is rewarded and practiced in the home, children and teens can learn to face their fears, take risks, and ultimately gain confidence.

Screening out violent movies and games helps, according to experts who also recommend that parents point out positive coping skills in cartoons and movies.

Anxiety is normal and nature's way of preparing us to respond to dangerous situations.

A little bit of anxiety can heighten our senses and our performance, helping us to prepare for a tough exam, meet a big challenge or prepare for a minor scare like a hairpin turn in the road.

When anxiety is temporary, we learn that things get back to normal quickly. We pass the test, make it down a scary rollercoaster or through a sharp turn in the road.

It also helps us avoid/prepare for dangerous or challenging situations.

A fear of guns may help children avoid playing with dangerous weapons. Whereas fear of flunking an exam, may cause a child to be better prepared for a test.

When Anxiety Becomes a Problem

Chronic or unfounded anxiety becomes a health problem when our body is in a constant state of readiness to respond to danger - whether real or imagined.

This "constant readiness" is stressful on our body, mental and emotional state.

Our kids often don't readily identify being overly anxious or nervous and may better identify with physical manifestations of anxiety like:

  1. Feeling sick or shaky
  2. Headaches
  3. Chest pain
  4. Sore muscles
  5. Dizzy, lightheaded or unsteady
  6. Tightness or a lump in the throat; choking sensation
  7. Extreme sweating

If anxiety is causing your child to avoid normal activities, it's time to seek professional support.

Editor's Note: This copy was reviewed by PsychSystems, a behavioral health group practice.

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