While PTSD might require efforts beyond the scope of a parent, for general anxiety and social phobia, there are some ways that parents can help ease the symptoms. Of course, these are no replacement for help by professionals who are well-versed in helping children with anxiety.
Tamar E. Chansky, a psychotherapist, wrote a practical guide, “Freeing Your Child From Anxiety,” and explained her a “master plan” for helping children gain control over their anxiety:
Empathize with your child. Don’t dismiss your child’s concerns. They are very real to her. Instead, acknowledge those concerns and the effects they might have.
Name it. Let your child know that these worries come from “worry brain” and cannot be trusted. Instead of focusing on the particular worry, your child can come to understand that it is the anxiety itself that is causing the issues.
Rewire and resist. Talk out the problem with your daughter and find out what she is really worried about. Through this process, she might be able to recognize that her fears cannot come true (or at least are very unlikely). Assist her in telling her “worry brain” to be quiet!
Relaxation breathing. Quieting her body may allow her to quiet her brain. Teach her relaxation techniques that can help her keep her body calm.
Praise effort. Rewiring and refocusing is hard work – for anyone – especially a child who cannot completely control other areas of her life. Therefore, let her know how great she is doing in attempting to get through a tough situation.
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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