Dos And Don'ts Of Treating And Handling Your Child's Generalized Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 25.1 percent of children aged 13 to 18 years of age suffer from an anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. It's normal for your child to feel anxious if they have a big test or are heading out on their first date. However, generalized anxiety is an issue that impacts a child on a day-to-day basis and can make it difficult for them to live their lives. If you suspect your child is suffering from generalized anxiety or they were recently diagnosed with GED, here are a few dos and don'ts to keep in mind:

Do Understand the Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is unfortunately a part of life. However, when your child seems to worry and fret on a daily basis, and this worry is beginning to impact their school performance and everyday life, the problem could be generalized anxiety disorder.

If you suspect your child is suffering from generalized anxiety, here are a few symptoms to watch for:

  • Excessive worry. For example, a child with anxiety may worry that their parents will die, they will lose their friends, or they will become sick, and this worry has a dramatic impact on their daily life.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Tantrums
  • Trouble in school. Often, children with generalized anxiety will be perfectionists, which can lead them to feel discouraged if they don't perform well.
  • Trouble making friends. Often, a child who was social in the past will become withdrawn if they are suffering from anxiety.

Additionally, a child suffering from anxiety will also have several physical symptoms. These include chest pains, headaches, tingling, numbness, sweating, shaking, nausea, and stomach pains. Physical symptoms will often occur when your child is dealing with a severe bout of anxiety.

Don't Tell Your Child to Ignore Their Feelings

Even if you're able to conquer your feelings of anxiety and just "get over it," your child may not have the same ability. While your child is having an anxiety attack, which is an extreme feeling of terror that is often accompanied by chest palpitations, hyperventilation, and trouble breathing, or is dealing with their generalized anxiety, it is vital to not devalue their emotions.

Instead, help your child recognize their anxiety and teach them how to cope. For example, one effective trick is to ask your child to tell you exactly why they are feeling anxious. Talk with your child about their feelings, and try to find a distraction. This could be anything from reading a story to allowing them to play a favorite video game.

Deep breathing exercises is another great way to help your child deal with their anxiety. When your child begins exhibiting their anxiety-related symptoms, such as the ones mentioned above, encourage them to take several deep breaths and focus on inhaling and exhaling. These are only two of the several ways you can help your child deal with their anxiety. Continue to experiment with different methods until you find the one that works for your child.

Do Learn About the Available Treatment Options

Finally, if you aren't able to handle the symptoms of your child's anxiety at home, it's time to seek professional treatment. In addition to a variety of medications, there are other options that can help your child learn to cope with their anxiety.

For example, one option that might work for your child is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. A therapist will utilize several techniques to help your child unlearn the behaviors that are leading to their anxiety. For example, if your child has severe anxiety that stems from school performance, the therapist might simulate the classroom, or place your child in a variety of anxiety-inducing behaviors, all the while making sure they are not being pushed too far.

The ultimate goal of CBT is to help your child manage how they react to situations that trigger their anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder in children is a common issue that can dramatically impact their quality of life. If you believe your child is dealing with anxiety, don't hesitate to contact a professional for help by visiting a site like