Helping Children Cope with Anxiety in and Uncertain World, by Andrew Eisen

When It’s More Than Anxiety

It is becoming increasingly evident that some children’s struggles are not limited to anxiety. Some anxious youth also experience neurological problems such as attention deficit issues, learning weaknesses or sensory integration dysfunction (under- or oversensitivity to taste, touch, smell, noise or light). The combination of anxiety and neurological problems makes it more likely that children may:

misperceive other’s intentions,
misinterpret other’s remarks,
misunderstand social cues,
believe that nothing is their fault,
complain of constant fatigue or
explode without notice.

Depending on the severity and intensity of these behaviors, the long-term consequences can range from mild to significant. When children are young and vary widely in social perceptual skills, these behaviors may have minimal impact on social relationships. But, as children begin to approach the preteen and teenage years, social relationships become more complicated and “fitting in” becomes more important.

Continued struggles in the above areas may result in children becoming socially vulnerable or prone to neglect or even rejection by their peers. For these children, increased intervention in this area is crucial. The CADC recently began offering Social Perception Training (SPT) Groups. With increased understanding of various social contexts, children will ultimately become more socially confident and competent.


Thinking Makes It So

Whether it’s a minor anxiety problem or something more serious, parents should always keep in mind that anxiety is largely about anticipation. For example, thinking about going to school is always far worse than actually going to school.

I tell children every day, “There is nothing in your life that you can’t do — sometimes you just think you can’t do it. And that’s not you talking, that’s your anxiety.” We can teach children to fight back — to say, “Oh Yeah! I can do it.”

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Opening Page | The Power of Cognitive Therapy
When to Seek Professional Help | About the Author

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