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How to Use Summer to Help Your Student Manage Anxiety

Why Summer Is the Perfect Time to Address Your Child's Anxiety

During the school year, there aren't many opportunities for a child to decompress before the next anxiety-producing experience. Fortunately, summer provides a nice window to address potential issues before school ramps up again. If your child struggled with anxiety during the school year, here's how to use the summer to resolve troublesome issues.

Does My Child Suffer from Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal physiological response to stressful situations that have uncertain outcomes. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty managing anxiety, even when confronted by everyday situations. When anxiety runs amok, people often experience excessive apprehension and uneasiness that may lead to panic attacks or compulsive behavior. If you're not sure whether your child is suffering from anxiety, you should watch for the following signs:

  • Excessive worry about appearance, family matters, peers, grades, tests, homework or athletic performance
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, vomiting and upset stomach
  • Difficulty falling asleep or frequent waking
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty relaxing, even when they realize their fears are unreasonable or out of proportion
  • Perfectionism and/or self-loathing
  • Social isolation and/or avoidance of stressful activities
  • Irritability and/or drastic mood changes
  • Compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts

It's not always easy to address these symptoms and behaviors during the school year, when stressors are peaking. That's why it's a good idea to address potential issues during the summer, when your child is less likely to feel overwhelmed by school- and peer-related stress.

Getting Help

It's generally not enough to simply tell children to relax or meditate about their worries. In most cases, it's better to seek help from a qualified professional who can teach the child practical strategies for coping with inevitable stressors in healthier ways.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment that has been found to be very effective for anxiety. Under the guidance of a professionally trained counselor, CBT address the person's thoughts, along with the emotions and behaviors that result. By bringing these issues to the forefront, the counselor is able to teach the child how to examine faulty or irrational thinking, while developing more effective ways to cope with external and internal issues.

If a child has a negative internal message, for instance, this may permeate every aspect of his or her life, including friendships, academics and extracurricular activities. Over time, the child may begin to feel hopeless and powerless, resulting in unhealthy behaviors that get them in trouble and actually reinforce the negative internal message.

By challenging irrational or destructive thought patterns, a trained counselor can help the child cultivate more positive and accurate ways of thinking, creating a more empowering internal message that alters the way he or she views the world.

Through professional guidance, children are also able to learn that anxiety is a natural part of our body's fight-or-flight response. This helps them understand that they aren't flawed, but are simply responding to an evolutionary survival mechanism that may need to be reined in through cognitive exercises that alter negative thought patterns and provide a greater sense of  control.

Our caring therapists can help you and your family thrive. Contact us today!