Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The World Health Organization estimates that around 2.5% of the world’s population is affected by OCD, an anxiety disorder, which ranges from children to senior citizens. Evidence is strong that OCD tends to run in families. Of course, having a genetic tendency for OCD does not mean people will develop OCD, but it means there is a stronger chance they might.

There are many other anxiety disorders that affect children and adults such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, social phobia, and separation anxiety. Recently, I heard Dr. Paul Foxman, the author of Dancing with Fear and The Worried Child. He suggested that treating anxiety is a lot like hitting a homerun:

  • 1st base: you recognize the problem
  • 2nd base: you decide you want to change the behavior
  • 3rd base: you devise a strategy to change the behavior
  • Home: you score when you implement the change on a regular basis
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Whether you or your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder or just plain old anxiety, there are still many things you can do in order to help control the anxiety. As a general rule, distinguish between what is in our control and what is out of our control. We can control ourselves, but not those around us. Unpredictability and uncertainty are associated with anxiety. So you choose how to spend your time, how to maintain your relationships, how to care for your children, and live according to your core values.

Some other tips for dealing with anxiety include:

Rest. When you sleep, your body relaxes. Therefore, help your child get as much sleep as his body needs.

Exercise. Exercise is great for your body and brain! Exercise relieves stress and fights anxiety. Get your child kicking a ball or running around the track.

Proper nutrition. Highly processed or sugary foods can feed anxiety. Eat foods that are high in vitamin B and low-fat proteins.

Daily routines. Routines help calm anxious children because they allow them to feel in control. Establish daily routines and do your best to stick to them (without stressing out!).

Replace worry with positive and rational thinking. Help your child change his thinking. When he wants to think an anxious thought, help him transform it to a positive or rational one. With practice, this can become a way of life.

Model calm. If you are anxious, there is no way that you are going to help your child overcome his anxiety. Therefore, work on your own anxiety. In the end, it will benefit your child as well.

Practice breathing. Check out the chart below to learn about the way controlling your breath can transform your anxiety.

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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 rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.